Although there are many architectural styles to choose from, today’s modern building designs always have one thing in common – the need for a well-designed elevator system. Elevators are the key players in making buildings more efficient, accessible and safe, especially in emergencies.
But it’s not all about functionality. Of course, today’s elevators have the needed fire and smoke safety features, but they can also serve as a beautiful design element that complements a building’s overall aesthetic.
Let’s take a look at some examples of indoor and outdoor elevators that stand out as design elements and learn more about how elevator smoke protection can be incorporated into interior spaces to help facilitate creative designs.
Indoor Elevators That Add To Design Aesthetics
Elevator shafts in large, multi-story buildings can present a big safety challenge because they will act like a chimney during a fire emergency. Much of today’s elevator design work can be credited to the development of state-of-the-art fire and elevator smoke curtains that eliminate the need for enclosed elevator lobbies.
In past decades, enclosed elevator lobbies were required to separate elevator shafts from the rest of a building. They were often quite costly to design and could greatly impact a building’s design aesthetics, how much square footage would be available for other uses and the overall flow of pedestrian traffic.
Today, installing a fire curtain or a smoke curtain replaces the need for an elevator lobby and gives elevator systems the potential to become part of a building’s decor. These curtains are installed at the elevator jamb to protect the elevator shaft without affecting the design at all. When they are not in use, the curtains disappear above the elevator frame and remain hidden until they are deployed again.
The Roosevelt Hotel – New Orleans, Louisiana
A Waldorf Astoria hotel, the historic landmark Roosevelt Hotel installed 94 M200 elevator units as part of a renovation project following Hurricane Katrina. Perfectly hidden in casings, these curtains integrated seamlessly with the hotel’s interior design and did not impede on the existing architectural elements in the elevator lobby areas.
The Bradbury Building Elevator – Los Angeles, California
The five-story Bradbury Building is a historic architectural landmark renowned for its breathtaking skylit atrium and intricately designed walkways, stairs and elevators. It is most known for its access to endless amounts of natural light that highlights its art nouveau ironwork. Surrounded by wrought-iron filigree, the elevator’s open cage design becomes part of the décor and eliminates the fire and smoke dangers posed by a typical elevator shaft opening.
The Gran Hotel Ciudad de México
Known for its dazzling architecture and Tiffany stained glass ceiling, the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico is home to one of the first panoramic elevators ever installed in Mexico. The cage-like elevators, along with the ceiling, are original elements of the building when it was first built in 1899 as a luxury department store. Once again, this indoor open elevator design not only becomes a stunning design element, but it also saves space and poses less of a fire and smoke threat when compared to a standard elevator design and shaft.
First National Center – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The First National Center is a historic building that recently underwent renovations. With the lobby and atrium’s beautiful marble walls, there was a need to find a solution to keep the center’s four elevators up to code without compromising the interior design. Each elevator was fitted with M400 elevator curtains which are invisible until deployed, ensuring that the atrium maintains its aesthetic appeal when the smoke curtains are not in use.
Elevators Working With Exterior Design To Provide Breathtaking Views
Outdoor elevators offer a lot of benefits when it comes to both safety and design. Because of exposure to the elements, these elevators are designed to be extremely durable and weather-resistant, using enhanced safety features. They also don’t take up valuable indoor square footage of a building and greatly minimize indoor disruptions caused by construction.
Outdoor elevators open up many different possibilities for design. These elevators are not locked into the typical shapes and sizes of indoor elevators, allowing architects and designers a much wider range of creative opportunities. Following are a few great examples found all over the world.
CN Tower – Toronto, Canada
The CN Tower’s six glass-walled elevators have been retrofitted to operate from the outside instead of inside. In 2008, glass floor panels were also added to the elevators, offering occupants a new, exhilarating view as they are whisked 346 meters from the ground floor to the Main Observation Level in 58 seconds.
SkyView Elevator – Stockholm Sweden
Located on the exterior of the largest spherical structure in the world, Globen Arena, the glass and metal Skyview Elevator gives its occupants extraordinary, one-of-a-kind scenic views. This gondola-style elevator utilizes a motorized landing door with an electromagnetic lock on the door drive system with an impact-tested single glass panel.
Elevador de Santa Justa – Lisbon, Portugal
Built in 1901, the beautifully designed Santa Justa elevator is built from iron and connects the lower streets of the Baixa to the higher Largo do Carmo region of the city. A very popular tourist attraction, the top floor provides incredible views of Lisbon.
Maximize Your Building’s Potential
Installing the right smoke containment system for your building gives you the code equivalent of an enclosed elevator lobby without taking up valuable square footage or hindering design. Even older buildings can be remodeled and brought back up to code without an elevator lobby.