Just looking at it, this picture may seem to have nothing to do with elevators … but it does, in a most interesting way. Your author was among approximately a dozen journalists who visited Finland recently to tour KONE’s recently revamped (and very impressive) underground test “tower,” which is deeper than London’s The Shard is tall. Underground, there is far more than just the lab: There is a restaurant (where movies have been filmed), and a labyrinth-like series of interconnected cave areas, sort of like a surreal hedge maze made of rock. It would have been easy for us to get lost without the guidance of our hosts from KONE, who are familiar with every nook and cranny of the operation, including this interesting feature — a bottle-storage rack perfect for wine storage since the temperature stays at a steady 40 or so degrees Fahrenheit. Here, your author and architect David Malott, chairman of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, check out KONE’s underground wine selection. I’ve also included a shot of all of us posing for a group shot.
The Van der Valk Hotel Ultrecht in Ultrecht, Netherlands, recently completed an extensive renovation creating a sleek, modern new look with city center accents throughout. From hall names to wall hangings, the hotel celebrates Ultrecht’s city center. The only problem is the hotel resides on the outskirts of town, not in its center. The solution: a virtual city center view from the hotel’s elevators. Unveiled July 14, and created by cinematographer Robbert Vogtländer, along with computer animation-studio Happy Ship, Hotel Ultrecht now features elevators that travel from the basement to 20th floor, allowing guests to jump out of the water of the Oude Gracht, hover past the Dom Tower cathedral, watch birds fly and wind rock the leaves, and the earth move under the sun with the same accuracy as the clock on the Dom.
The ancient world has left modern humanity engineering feats that are difficult to explain. For example, how exactly were the great pyramids of Egypt built? How did the ancients transport the massive stones that make up Stonehenge? Were the Nazca Lines (those huge drawings on the ground in the Peruvian desert that are clearly visible from an aerial vantage point) prehistoric messages to alien visitors?
For many of us, modern engineering feats are equally mysterious. Take the escalator. If you’re not an engineer or technician, you probably can only wonder what makes these marvels of people-moving tick. Well, wonder no more: Precision Escalator Products, Inc., has posted on its website a fascinating, animated, interactive depiction of how these incredible machines work. Watch as the steps go from top to bottom, make their way around the turnaround, and head back up and around the bull gear, where they start their endless journey all over again. The best part: You can click on a button for each major component, removing it from the animation, and then rebuild your escalator a piece at a time. It may not make you an expert, but it sure does give you an appreciation for the folks who design, build and maintain these machines that we so often take for granted. Check it out at http://precisionescalator.com/virtual-escalator/.
Special thanks to Kevin Dix of Otis, who brought this wonderful virtual-learning tool to our attention.