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Unconventional Elevators from around the World

The Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East are home to some unique elevator designs.

Bailong elevatorThe Bailong elevator is built onto the side of a cliff in the Wulingyuan area of Zhangjiajie, China. Rising 1,000 feet high, it is the world’s tallest outdoor elevator. Its name means “Hundred Dragons Elevator.” Passengers who ride to the top get a spectacular view of massive quartzite sandstone pillars, some of which stand 2,600 feet tall.

Sky Tower elevatorThe elevators in the 70-story Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand are not for the faint-hearted. Each of the four elevators has a glass window in the floor, allowing riders to see the world below them as they climb to the building’s upper floors.

Rising Tide elevatorAt 2,038 feet, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is the world’s tallest building. It also boasts the world’s fastest elevator, carrying passengers up at a speed of 40 miles per hour, to reach the top in a mere 35 seconds. Since the building is so tall, it uses double-decker elevators, each featuring a light show.

The Umeda Hankyu Building elevator in Osaka, Japan measures 11 feet by 9 feet and can transport 80 passengers or almost five tons at a time. The Hankyu Department Store takes up the first 14 floors of the building. Offices don’t start until the 15th floor, so the elevator must be able to transport large numbers of employees to the upper floors of the tall building.

The Rising Tide elevator is located on the MS Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world. It can hold up to 35 passengers and transport them between the Central Park deck and the Royal Promenade in an eight-minute trip. It is the only bar-elevator combination in the world.

China’s Tallest Building will have World’s Fastest Elevator

Shanghai TowerThe main structure for China’s Shanghai Tower is almost completed and will be the nation’s tallest building, for now. Skyscrapers are getting taller and taller around the world, pushing architects to create better buildings. Shanghai Tower will be the tallest building in China until Sky City is built. However, one thing that the Shanghai Tower will still have is the world’s fastest elevator.

The Shanghai Tower needed an 18 foot deep foundation that required 63 hours of non-stop work to pour. Once the massive structure is finished, it will contain more than six million square feet of office and retail space that is expected to attract an estimated 16,000 people per day. While the building will only be China’s tallest until Sky City is finished, it is still a spectacle.

The tower’s 90 by 90 foot concrete core will be surrounded by a layer of glass that will insulate the building and regulate its energy consumption. There will be atriums with ceilings high enough to house trees as tall as 10 meters. There will be 121 floors, which guests will travel between in the world’s fastest elevator. The elevator will be able to reach speeds of 40 mph, getting riders to their desired floor faster than any other commercial elevator ever built.

Shanghai Tower (2,073 feet) will be the third tallest building in the world, behind the Burj Khalifa (2,717 feet) and Sky City (2,739 feet). It will be one amazing structure that will be able to boast it has the world’s fastest elevator.

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The World’s Fastest Elevators

People hate to wait for anything. They hate to wait in line, hate to wait for their food, and hate to wait on the elevator. We invented faster check out methods to decrease wait times in line, fast food to make getting food quicker, and now faster elevators to get to your floor in less time. Buildings keep getting taller and have more floors, so the elevators keep getting faster. New elevators can travel as fast as a car on the street.

Asian cities are the leader in the race to develop the world’s fastest elevator. Only one North American building broke the top five for having the world’s fastest elevators. The “Ferrari” of elevators in located in Taipei, Taiwan. The Taipei 101 building boasts an elevator that reaches speed of over 60 km/h, which is the equivalent to 37 mph! The Taipei 101 building is 509 meters high, and its elevators can travel from the fifth floor to the 89th floor in only 37 seconds. Each of these race-car like elevators have a price tag of over $2 million.

China, Japan, and Taiwan dominate the top rankings, with only the United Arab Emirates being another country that achieved a high rank. Here is the list of the top five buildings with the fastest elevators in the world. First place has a huge lead of over 10 km/h, and there is a four way tie for 3rd place.

1st Place- Taipei 101 Taipei, Taiwan 60.6 km/h

Taipei 101

2nd Place- Yokohama Landmark Tower Yokohama, Japan 46 km/h

Yokohama Landmark Tower

3rd Place-(Tied) Burj Khalifa Dubai, United Arab Emirates 36 km/h

Burj Khalifa

3rd Place- (Tied) Sunshine 60 Tokyo, Japan 36 km/h

Sunshine 60

3rd Place- (Tied) Shanghai World Financial Center Shanghai, China 36 kn/h

Shanghai World Financial Center

3rd Place- (Tied) China World Trade Center Tower 3 Beijing, China 36 km/h

China World Trade Center

4th Place- John Hancock Center Chicago, Illinois 33 km/h

John Hancock Center

5th Place- Jin Mao Tower Shanghai, China 32.8 km/h

Jin Mao Tower

New Double-Deck Elevators Needed for Skyscrapers

Burj Khalifa

Otis Elevator Company is working on a new double-deck elevator design that will travel the world’s tallest buildings. Not only do they need to figure out how this will be done, they need to figure how to ensure these beefed up 16 metric ton elevators do not plummet if something goes wrong.

New skyscrapers in China and Saudi Arabia are looking to surpass Dubai’s record 2,717 foot Burj Khalifa building. These new high rises also challenge leading elevator companies like Otis to create new elevators that can travel these ginormous buildings. The market for big money elevators should increase in 2013, as 24 skyscrapers over 1,000 feet tall are expected to be built this year.

The elevators made for smaller structures will not be able to handle the heights of the new super buildings. Engineers are responding to the task with new double-deck cars that can serve two floors at a time and by coordinating the elevator traffic with computers. The demand for these new elevators will heElevatorlp the global elevator market reach an estimated $90 billion annually.

Otis used a similar double-deck elevator car design for the Burj Khalifa, which was finished in 2010. The system used a computerized dispatch system and polyurethane-coated belts instead of steel ropes, which eliminated the need for an engine room. To reach the new heights proposed by China and Saudi Arabia, Otis plans on upgrading the braking system for the Gen2 lifts used in Dubai.

The challenge of creating a brake system for an elevator that can reach such heights comes from the speeds a potential falling car could reach. If one of the cars were to plummet, it could reach speeds of up to 45 mph. Trying to stop a car of that weight at that speed would generate a serious amount of heat, as much as 572 degrees Fahrenheit. To prepare for the challenge that awaits them, Otis strengthened its test tower in Bristol, Connecticut. The company needs to test a system that can work in a 3,000 foot building, without a 3,000 foot building.

Otis will compete with Kone, another world leader in elevators, to win the bid on Saudi Arabia’s new 3,000 foot tower. The competition should help facilitate for the creation of the best elevator technology we have seen in years.

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