At a press conference in Chicago in 1956, when he was 87 years old, architect Frank Lloyd Wright unveiled his plan for what would come to be known as The Mile High Illinois, a skyscraper four times the height of the Empire State Building that would dwarf the world’s current tallest building, the 2,717-ft.-tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at 5,280 ft. The never-realized Mile High would have had more than 500 floors and be powered by 76, nuclear-powered, five-deck elevators. Even at that, a modern-day elevator consultant told The New Yorker this would have fallen far short. James Fortune said up to 225 elevators would have been needed. The architect’s “lost masterpiece” had a lot of other technical issues, which you can read all about in The Daily Beast.
During a recent trip down Airport Boulevard in Mobile, Alabama, where Elevator World, Inc., has its global headquarters, the Editorial staff spotted a familiar name on a pair of work trucks parked in a strip mall near a Whole Foods: Garaventa, the global accessibility-lift specialist that has been known in the industry for decades. Since the vehicles were outfitted with personalized “Lifts” tags from the Alabama capital of Montgomery, we now know the company has a location here. Further research revealed Garaventa Lift Alabama is a factory-owned branch operated out of Prattville, Alabama, just outside of Montgomery. We are curious as to what the technicians were working on in Mobile. If you know, please let US know!! Was it lifts for Whole Foods, another retailer, or an upscale home in one of the nearby neighborhoods? We would love to know!!
Last year, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Helsinki, courtesy of KONE, to tour their newly remodeled underground high-rise elevator test laboratory and shaft, the deepest in the world. While that was clearly a highlight of the trip, the magic of Helsinki was on full display at every turn, including at the hotel where KONE put up its journalist guests. Located in a historic building steps away from Helsinki’s South Harbor, it is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and has hosted the likes of the Dalai Lama and Kylie Minogue. It is a beautiful place with an interior that reminds one of a fairytale castle. Attention is paid to every detail, including its elevator, an impressive installation by Schindler that features a stainless steel and rich wood cab that travels in a black-cage shaft in the center of a white marble staircase. I should have videotaped its smooth, elegant operation, but these pictures will have to do!