News

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Week of 6/29/20

JOHNSON LIFTS MANUFACTURING TOUCHLESS TECH

Johnson Lifts, an Indian OEM, has released and app and foot-controlled elevator calling system to operate lifts without touching the buttons, it recently told The Hindu. The EyeRIS app connects the user’s smartphone with the lift system using QR-code technology. The user only needs to indicate the “present floor” and “destination floor” in the app. The foot-operated calling system was designed and installed for Chennai Metro. Johnson Executive Director V. Jagannathan said such technology is “crucial in these times when COVID-19 is forcing us to look at our lives differently.”

IEES IN AMSTERDAM IS POSTPONED UNTIL 2021

The next International Elevator & Escalator Symposium (IEES), originally to take place this December, has been postponed until December 6-7, 2021. It is still planned for the Hotel Okura in Amsterdam. IEES is a technical and educational symposium for the global vertical-transportation industry organized by Liftinstituut B.V. and Elevator World, Inc. The theme remains “The Future of Vertical Transportation in 2030,” and professionals around the world can share their research, thoughts and suggestions on this topic. Paper abstracts for the IEES technical committee to review are due on June 18, 2021.

HITACHI CHINA WINS 176-UNIT ORDER FOR METRO EXPANSION

Hitachi Elevator (China) has won another bid to supply vertical-transportation (VT) equipment to a metro expansion project, the company announced on June 17. The contract calls for 176 escalators and elevators for Foshan Metro Line 3, a 69.5-km, 37-station project that follows a north-south route through the city. Once complete, it will connect with six other metro lines, making Line 3 a major route on the Guangdon-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area rail system. With the Foshan contract, Hitachi will have provided VT for transit systems in 22 Chinese cities. Many of these projects have used the company's BPG line of escalators, which offers heavy-duty design and uses artificial intelligence to enhance safety and improve efficiency. The Foshan announcement was made a day after Hitachi reported winning a bid for 152 units for the Guangzhou Metro Line 7 expansion project.

SYDNEY TO BE HOME OF TALLEST HYBRID TIMBER BUILDING

Software company Atlassian is planning a new, 40-story headquarters in Sydney that will be the world's tallest hybrid timber building, CNN reported June 25. Design studio BVN and NYC-based SHoP Architects have been commissioned to build the timber, steel and glass structure. It will feature natural ventilation and large, landscaped terraces. The hybrid design will reduce the construction carbon footprint by up to 50%, and the structure is designed to use 50% less energy than a conventional building. With a steel exoskeleton and mass timber construction, the building, in Sydney's Innovation and Technology Precinct, will house 4,000 Atlassian employees. Completion is targeted for 2025.

TOWERS, HERITAGE BUILDING RESTORATION ON BRISBANE RIVER

Maple Development Group won approval to build 30- and 35-story mixed-use towers in the Quay Street precinct overlooking the Brisbane River in Brisbane, Australia, The Urban Developer reports. The Beijing-backed developer aims to start construction in early 2021 on the AUD200-million (US$137-million) project, which includes 168 apartments, offices and retail, as well as restoration of the 1800s-built Davidson's Residence. The site spans 57 Coronation Drive, 58-66 Quay Street and 15 Exford Street. Urban planner Urbis led a team that persuaded the Brisbane City Council to allow the development, which exceeds the city's height limit of 20 stories.

CLEANMOBILITY: SCHINDLER LINE FOR HEALTH AND SANITIZING

Schindler has launched CleanMobility, a new line of innovations designed to improve sanitization and other means of ensuring the health and safety of people using building-transportation systems, including elevators, escalators and moving walks, the company announced on June 25. Touchless options are the ElevateMe smartphone app, which allows passengers to call the elevator and select their destinations; CleanCall no-contact sensors, which make elevator push buttons unnecessary; and an expanded myPORT Public app for Schindler PORT, making the destination control and building-access system touchless for the general public. Sanitization solutions are CleanCover, providing an antibacterial protective film to cover elevator surfaces; the CleanAir air purification system and the CleanCar system, which use ultraviolet (UV) light to kill microbes inside elevators; and Ultra UV for escalators and moving walk handrails. Finally, the CleanMobility range is complemented by the CleanSpace passenger space solution, allowing for changeable settings to limit passenger load in elevator cars to promote physical distancing.

"CITY OF THE FUTURE" PLANNED IN SHENZHEN, CHINA

Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent plans to build Net City, a 2-million-ft2 "city of the future" in the metropolis of Shenzhen, CNN reported June 15. The massive urban development, which will accommodate a population of about 80,000, will prioritize pedestrians, green space and self-driving vehicles, according to the U.S.-based design firm NBBJ, which won an international competition to develop the master plan. Net City, to be built on reclaimed land that juts out into the Pearl River estuary, will primarily serve Tencent, the company behind popular Chinese social media and communication apps WeChat and QQ. It will have dozens of buildings, ranging from single-floor structures to 30-story towers. Construction is expected to commence this year and take seven years to complete.

PAIR OF TOWERS WITH RIVERWALK PLANNED IN BRISBANE CBD

Dexus, a developer with more than AUD11 billion (US$7.59 billion) in projects in the works across Australia, hopes to start construction on Waterfront Brisbane at 45 Eagle Street in Brisbane's CBD in 2022. It will boast 49- and 43-story commercial towers and a riverwalk, The Urban Developer reports. The AUD2.1-billion (US$1.45-billion) plan is set to unfold on a 9,000-m2 site that would also house four levels of underground parking, riverfront dining, public plazas and a ferry terminal. Phase one consists of the taller, north tower, the riverwalk and other public areas, and aims for a 2026 completion. Phase two would be the shorter, south tower.

PLAN INCLUDING ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S TALLEST COMMENCES

Phase one of a multibillion-dollar plan that includes a 108-story tower that would be one of Australia's tallest is set to start construction in Southport, providing a boost to an economy battered by COVID-19, The Urban Developer reports. Developed by Azzura Investments and designed by Kris Kowalski Architects, Imperial Square calls for four towers, the smallest of which — the 18-story Regal Residences — represents phase one. It will include 145 apartments, a 200-room hotel and amenities such as an infinity pool, a gymnasium, an executive lounge and restaurants at 59-73 Meron Street. Construction of the supertall is at least five years away, but phase one will generate approximately 300 jobs in the meantime, a Southport city leader said.

Week of 6/22/20

THYSSENKRUPP WINS PAIR OF INDIAN AIRPORT CONTRACTS

thyssenkrupp Elevator recently won two contracts to provide vertical-transportation equipment to airports in India. Fifteen elevators will serve a 40,000-m2 expansion at Pune International Airport. At the new, 77,500-m2 terminal at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport in Guwahati will be 25 thyssenkrupp elevators, 10 escalators and two moving walks. The OEM observes civil aviation has emerged as one of the fastest-growing industries in India, with passenger traffic reaching more than 199 million in fiscal 2020 and the nation poised to overtake the U.K. as the third-largest passenger market by 2024. thyssenkrupp equipment is in place at 20 Indian airports, and, with government efforts to increase the number of domestic airports from 103 to up to 200 by 2040, the company anticipates further opportunities.

POST-PANDEMIC VT ISSUES RAISED

Office building managers dealing with the easing of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders are faced with a dilemma regarding vertical transportation (VT): Once occupancy ramps up, they will have to weigh social-distancing protocols against long-established safety and VT usage norms. A report by Bisnow noted that recent occupancy of many buildings rarely surpasses 25%, making social distancing — such as limiting the number of elevator passengers — easy to implement. But, once daily counts cross 50%, "we may have to rethink that," Meredith Cress, an executive with facilities management company Hines, said during a recent webinar. One such solution would be to allow people to use stairwells normally reserved for emergency use. To do so would mean leaving the doors to them unlocked, which would create building security issues.

CTBUH TALL BUILDINGS BOOK GETS THIRD EDITION

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) released Tall Buildings + Urban Habitat: Volume 2 in June. The third edition in three years, it continues exploring a viable, sustainable urban habitat, with urban density playing an important role. "Tall buildings need to be seen as integrated pieces of urban infrastructure, dedicated to improving quality of life in the city as a whole," the book explains. "This requires a cohesive, multidisciplinary response." This 328-page edition provides a global overview of dense urban development written by Emily Torem and Maureen Colvin, and edited by Steven Henry and Daniel Safarik. It can be purchased here.

PASSAGES WITH ESCALATORS PLANNED NEAR KOLKATA, INDIA

In an effort to protect pedestrians crossing the six-lane Major Arterial Road at the Rabindra Thirtha crossing at the Kolkata Gate, Bidhannagar, India, traffic department officials plan to build four escalator-equipped underground passages, or subways, beneath the busy thoroughfare, The Telegraph reported June 17. Though there are signal-equipped crossings, many pedestrians going to and from work at nearby IT offices dart across the road, dodging speeding vehicles. The subways, with four entry/exit points, will offer passage in different directions. They will be approximately 7 m below ground and will have up and down escalators at each end. The township already has 10 subways, but only one of them is equipped with escalators, and these are only upward-traveling units. The new subways will be the first with two-way escalators.

GLE EXPO DHAKA POSTPONED

The Fourth Global Lift & Escalator Expo Dhaka, originally scheduled for October 2020, has been rescheduled to April 15-17, 2021. Organizer Virgo Communications and Exhibitions explained, “With the number of new corona cases steadily increasing, the Bangladesh Government has, along with the management of Bashundhara, taken a decision to use the International Convention City Bashundhara, Dhaka, Bangladesh, premises for temporary healthcare activities until November 2020.” Rising business uncertainties and travel restrictions enforced by the lockdowns across Bangladesh and other countries added to the decision-making.

HITACHI SUPPLYING 152 ESCALATORS FOR GUANGZHOU METRO LINE 7

Hitachi Elevator (China) Co., Ltd. has won a bid to supply escalators and elevators for the first phase of Guangzhou Metro Line 7, an extension of the system to Shunde, Foshan, the company announced on June 16. The order calls for 152 escalators, but the announcement did not specify the number of elevators. Spanning 13.45 km, the western extension will connect Beijiao and Chencun, both in Foshan, with Guangzhou South Railway Station. It will link to Foshan metro lines 2 and 3, Guangzhou metro line 2 and Guangzhou-Foshan Circular Intercity Railway. Line 7 is scheduled to start test operations in July 2021. Guangzhou officials plan to start the construction of 12 metro projects, all of which will increase the total length of its metro lines in operation to more than 531 km, in 2020. Hitachi has provided more than 1,800 escalators and elevators to Guangzhou Metro, and its maintenance service covers 177 stations with a staff of more than 200.

OTIS CHINA TO PROVIDE NEARLY 300 UNITS TO METRO SYSTEMS

Otis Elevator Co. (China) Ltd. has won contracts to provide 207 escalators and six moving walks to Chongqing Metro Line 9 and 85 escalators to the first metro line in Nantong. In Chongqing, Line 9 will pass through five urban districts covering 32 km and including 24 stations. The area has a population of approximately 9 million. Installation of the equipment is scheduled at the end of 2020. In Nantong, a city of more than 7 million on the Yangtze River, Otis equipment will serve a metro line spanning 38 km with 28 stations. The Nantong line is set to open in March 2022.

DELAYED ESCALATOR REPAIRS UNDERWAY ALONG PERTH RAIL LINE

Work is underway to repair escalators at several stations of the Joondalup Line, a rail line that serves the northern suburbs of Perth, Australia, Perth Now reported on June 11. The work was needed after what the source called a "botched upgrade" left the escalators broken down for more than 18 months. Officials said a critical part was needed but replacements were not available until now. Work was underway on one escalator each at Glendalough and Stirling stations, which (to be completed by the end of June), and at Joondalup station (to be done by the end of August). Work underway on upward-traveling escalators at the Perth station was expected to be completed in early September, after which repair is to commence on the downward units. Further work was planned at four stations.

SYDNEY BUILDING FAILURES PROMPT REGULATIONS ON DEVELOPERS

In the wake of construction problems at multistory residential buildings in Sydney, regulators in New South Wales (NSW) have been granted new powers to hold developers accountable for their projects, The Urban Developer reported on June 19. Earlier in the month, the NSW government approved two bills: the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2020 and the Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Bill 2020. The bills provide regulatory framework in support of a government construction reform package. A chief provision is the empowerment of the secretary of the Department of Customer Service to order the correction of “serious defects” in residential apartment buildings, which will be overseen by the NSW building commissioner. Developers whose failure to comply with building codes result in uninhabitability, or who use banned products, will be held accountable. In addition, owners will be able to claim damages against contractors, subcontractors, manufacturers, suppliers and consultants.

Week of 6/15/20

PUNJAB ELEVATOR SIGN COMPLIANCE LAGS

The Hindustan Times recently reported that the Indian state of Punjab has not complied with an order from the high court to affix safety certificates in all the lifts installed in its housing societies per the Bombay Lift Act (1939), although Punjab has not yet enacted a lift act. A 2018 contempt petition by apartment residents prompted the high court to direct the Zirakpur municipal council and local government to affix safety certificates in individual lifts. Sanjay Goyal, chairman of the Indian Institute of Architects, Punjab Chapter, said such an act is the need of the hour for the safety of residents due to there being many housing societies in the state.

TELME TO PROVIDE 100-PLUS ELEVATORS FOR DUBAI PROJECTS

Toshiba Elevator Middle East, LLC (TELME) has won a contract to supply and install more than 100 elevators for several projects in Dubai, the company announced on June 3. The deal, reached with Dubai-based developer Azizi Development, calls for 104 machine-room-less elevators for low- and mid-rise residential projects in Azizi Riviera, in Mohamed Bin Rasheed City’s Meydan One Area, and at Creek View Gate in Healthcare City. Under the contract, TELME will deliver 98 elevators for several low-rise residential buildings in Azizi Riviera — a multiphase project comprising 69 buildings — and six elevators, including 14- and 21-person-capacity units, for the 21-story, 728,815-ft2 Creek View Gate residential building, which is scheduled for completion in 2021. Reported by N. Noor Fathima

ABU DHABI AIRPORT ELEVATORS GO TOUCHLESS

As part of their efforts to help stem the spread of COVID-19, officials at Abu Dhabi International Airport have installed touch-free technology on 53 elevators at the facility, Gulf News reported on June 10. In partnership with Meta Touch, a U.A.E.-based startup, the airport developed and installed “Touch-less Keypad Technology,” which allows elevator passengers to wave their hand in front of a panel to indicate their desired floor or direction. “The installation of the new technology across our elevators is a significant development in ensuring the safety of all our guests and travelers," said Shareef Al Hashmi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports. He added that the technology was designed to be easily installed on any existing elevator.

OTIS TO SUPPLY 133 ESCALATORS FOR AIRPORT PROJECT IN CHINA

Otis China subsidiary Otis Electric Elevator Co., Ltd. has won an order to provide 133 escalators for the Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport Phase 3 expansion project, the company recently announced. The project will bring the total number of Otis Electric escalators and elevators at the airport to more than 200. The expansion is part of a push to improve the city's infrastructure as it prepares to host the 2022 Asian Games. Otis Electric has provided equipment and maintenance service for transportation facilities across China, including the Hangzhou Metro. It was also a key supplier to the 80,000-seat Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center.

AUSTRALIA 108, MELBOURNE'S NEWEST SKYSCRAPER, TOPS OUT

Australia 108, a supertall residential skyscraper in Melbourne, officially topped out on June 9, placing it among the city's tallest residential towers, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat reports. At 316.7 m tall, the 100-story tower is also one of the tallest in the Southern Hemisphere. The vertical-transportation system, installed by KONE, features 13 elevators with speeds up to 9 m/s. According to The Skyscraper Center, Australia 108 was developed by Aspial Corp. and World Class Global and designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects. Construction began in late 2015, when main contractor Multiplex began work on the foundation. More than three-quarters of the apartments in the 128,266-m2 building have been finished; residents began occupying lower floors in 2018. Work is now focused on premium units rising from level 72. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of the third quarter of 2020.

Week of 6/8/20

IN MEMORIAM: RONNIE RODRIGUES

Ronnie Rodrigues, who had a 40-year career with Otis India, passed away on June 1. Considered a vertical-transportation (VT) guru, Rodrigues joined Otis India in 1954, eventually becoming head of its training department. He was responsible for starting the field-engineering division at the company. During his tenure, he trained more than 5,000 VT professionals, many of whom went on to become senior-level managers at companies around the world. When he retired in 1994, Rodrigues also oversaw Otis India's safety division. "Ronnie hated the spotlight and always preferred remaining in the background," colleague TAK Mathews said. "An avid badminton player as well as a bodybuilder, Ronnie was a multifaceted person. May his soul rest in peace."

SCHINDLER TO PROVIDE 160 UNITS TO MECCA GATEWAY PROJECT

In partnership with NESMA of Saudi Arabia, Schindler will deliver and install 160 elevators and escalators to King Abdul Aziz Road (KAAR), one of the largest urban-development projects in the Persian Gulf. The units will help move people between some of the busiest landmarks in Mecca, including Al Haram Mosque (Great Mosque). KAAR, commonly referred to as the Mecca gateway project, will use bus, metro and high-speed train transportation to and from a central pedestrian boulevard that accommodates up to 100,000 people. It is scheduled for completion by the end of 2021. The more-than-3.5-km-long, up-to-60-m-wide boulevard will be the new entrance to the city, allowing passage of visitors between the Great Mosque and a high-speed rail terminal in the city's west that links Jeddah and the King Abdul Aziz International Airport.

SEE-THROUGH OBSERVATION DECK OPENS HIGH ABOVE CHONGQING

A glass-bottomed observation platform that protrudes from the end of an enormous enclosed skybridge 820 ft above the ground opened to visitors in Chongqing, China, on June 1, the Daily Mail reports. The skybridge, called Crystal, stretches 984 ft across the tops of four skyscrapers, part of a massive, eight-tower project known as Raffles City Chongqing. Crystal has 107,000 ft2 of space that will hold a restaurant, two swimming pools and bars, all scheduled to open later this year. The observation deck covers 16,145 ft2 and includes an indoor lounge and the outdoor see-through terrace. It offers views of the confluence of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers. When completely open, the Raffles City complex will offer 1.6 million ft2 of office space, 1,400 residential units, a large shopping complex, a hotel and a major transit hub with access to a ferry terminal and subway and bus stations. It was developed by CapitaLand of Singapore, and vertical transportation was provided by KONE.

OFFICE TOWER PLANNED FOR TOKYO'S OMOTESANDO DISTRICT

The semi-governmental housing corporation Urban Renaissance Agency has announced plans for a 180-m-tall office tower in the Omotesando district of Tokyo, Japan Property Central reports. The 38-story tower is planned for the northern end of a 4-ha site that once held 25 low-rise apartment buildings built between 1957 and 1968, Tokyo's first postwar housing project. The south end of the site has already been redeveloped into a 90-m-tall, 25-story apartment tower and a 70-m-tall, 20-story public housing building. The office tower will include retail and a hotel on its lower floors. Construction is expected to launch in 2022, with completion in 2026 or 2027.

TODDLER IN CHINA RESCUED AFTER LEASH STUCK IN ELEVATOR

A toddler was rescued unharmed in Daye, China, after a safety leash tied to her wrist got stuck in an elevator door, causing the child to be yanked upward as the lift descended on May 28, The Indian Express is among outlets to report. Captured in a closed-caption TV video, the 2-year-old is seen “hanging [in] midair for over a minute” before members of the building’s maintenance team freed her. The elevator’s emergency-stop system activated, preventing the lift from descending further.

TWO MORE TOWERS TO ROUND OUT CAPITAL SQUARE PERTH

Despite a lawsuit claiming an 18-story office and 32-story mixed-use towers would create glare and mar the area's character, the structures got the OK to join an existing 32-story office building to form Capital Square Perth in Perth, Australia, The Urban Developer reports. A project of Malaysian-backed AAIG, the towers are set to take shape at 98 Mounts Bay Road and 17 Mount Street on the site of an Art Deco brewery that was demolished in 1991. The taller tower would have a hotel on the upper levels with offices below. AAIG went back to the drawing board to enhance the hotel entry and landscaping aspects of the plan, which has been "conditionally approved."

"SUPER PENTHOUSE" LISTED AS NEW ZEALAND'S PRICIEST HOME

A two-story "super penthouse" atop Pacifica, the tallest residential tower in New Zealand, is poised to become the country's most expensive home ever, based on its asking price, according to the Robb Report. When complete, the 584-ft-tall skyscraper in Auckland will hold more than 200 units, 85% of which have already been sold. The 13,000-ft2 penthouse, which comes at an asking price of NZD40 million (US$24.8 million), will occupy the entire 53rd and 54th floors. The project is being developed by Melbourne-based Hengyi.

OTIS' MARKS ENCOURAGED BY CHINA'S QUICK COVID-19 RECOVERY

Otis President and CEO Judy Marks, speaking during a May 28 online conference with industry analysts, pointed to China’s quick economic recovery as a good sign for the rest of the world in the second half of the year, the Hartford Courant reported. “China itself is back,” Marks said. “If China is the proxy for the rest of the world recovering from COVID, there will be a very positive bounce back in the second half." She said all 15,000 Otis employees in China are back at work, branch offices and factories are producing, and shipping and jobsite reopenings were approaching mid-90% for new equipment construction. China accounts for nearly 60% of new equipment sales at the OEM, according to analyst Nicholas Heymann at William Blair & Co.