The elevators in Chicago’s Willis Tower are getting replaced for the first time since the iconic skyscraper was built in 1973. New elevators and technology promise to get passengers to their destinations faster and cut energy usage by an estimated 35%.
Starting in June, 83 elevators and 97 passenger cabs, including their machine rooms, motors, cables, and controls will be replaced with new ones from Otis, says the building’s owner-manager Equity Office. After the project is completed, the building’s 16,000 workers and visitors are expected to arrive at their destinations as much as 30% faster than before.
Equity Office and people-moving products manufacturer Otis recently finalized a contract for upgrading the building’s elevator cabs to Otis SkyRise units using the company’s CompassPlus destination management system. Otis says their high-rise elevators have smart technology features and energy-efficient components. The CompassPlus system works by sorting passengers into elevators based on their destinations to improve speed and efficiency.
Standing 1,450 feet tall with 110 stories, Willis Tower has 4.5 million square feet of commercial office, retail, broadcast, and the highest observation deck in the United States. The elevators take an average of 42,247 trips every day and carry 5.8 million people each year, a spokesperson from the Equity Office told Energy Manager Today.
The massive elevator modernization is part of a $500 million renovation of the building and will likely take five years to complete. Speaking to Energy Manager Today in March, Willis Tower’s general manager Gary Michon said he is witnessing a historic transition that includes improvements to the building systems, elevators, and tenant amenities areas. He spoke about the new elevator systems.
“There are no buttons inside the elevators. You start by selecting the floor you’re going to instead of the up-and-down call button,” he said. “The elevator calculates which elevators will get everyone to their floors the quickest.” The goal, Michon says, is to improve efficiencies.
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