Stylish, Seamless Movement

The expansive entry hall of the new Robert B. Rowling Hall (RBRH) at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) is part of a new, 497,500-sq.-ft. facility “purposefully crafted as a space that invites learning, debate, dialogue and the freedom to experiment.”[1] It houses the Texas McCombs MBA and MS in Technology Commercialization programs, the Jon Brumley Texas Venture and John C. Goff labs, initiatives that assist startups; and the Center for Leadership and Ethics.

RBRH is served by a vertical-transportation (VT) system that is both elegant and energy efficient, and involved a team of VT professionals from Texas, and around the U.S. and world.

The general contractor was DPR Construction, headquartered in Redwood City, California, which specializes in complex, sustainable projects. Breaking ground in November 2014, DPR contracted with Arlington-based EMR Elevator, Inc., which is among the largest independent elevator companies in Texas, to install the VT equipment. The package included:

• Four escalators

• One geared traction elevator

• Two overhead-geared elevators

• Four machine-room-less (MRL) gearless traction elevators

• One passenger hydraulic panoramic elevator

• One hydraulic biparting freight elevator

For the escalators, EMR joined forces with Hong Kong manufacturer Anlev, one of the business units of ATAL Engineering Group that designs and manufactures highly specialized escalators, moving walks, passenger lifts, cargo lifts and MRL elevators. Anlev Sales Manager Samuel Cheng says EMR was the company’s first customer in Texas, and he’s pleased with the outcome. “We have projects in Kentucky, New York and, in Canada, Vancouver and Toronto,” he said. “We heard from EMR that UT was happy and satisfied with our escalators.” He continued:

“I would like to especially thank the installation, test and commissioning teams from EMR, as this was their first time to install our product. We didn’t expect the team to have full knowledge about our escalators. However, they showed us they were very experienced with them, probably due to the fact they maintain hundreds of escalators in Texas.”

The escalators are 11-X-2-ft. wide and 16-ft. tall with 1,000-mm steps. They travel at 0.5 mps and are outfitted with an inverter control that switches the units to energy-saving mode when there is no traffic. “The client asked for escalators with style and energy efficiency,” Cheng says, explaining how Anlev achieved this.

“The glass, inner deck, outer deck and brush strip are all in line with each other. The stainless-steel deck between the two main escalators is as long as possible, which minimizes the number of intersection lines and looks sleek and simple. Anlev has its own emergency-stop button design that’s very simple and stylish. Some in the market are big, rectangular boxes that look very heavy. We wanted to make it as streamlined as we could.”

Anlev also designed a tricolor LED display that clearly shows the direction and status of the escalator, as well as error codes and messages for troubleshooting. Special equipment is not needed to maintain these escalators. EMR describes them as user friendly for both passengers and maintenance staff, stating:

“Anlev escalators’ sleek design and adjusting procedures made installation and startup quick and easy. Their overall layout of communication and input/output boards made wiring effortless. And, the units’ onboard displays provide for easy scrolling and parameter changes.”

The Elevators

The elevators were manufactured as a complete package by Motion Control Engineering (MCE). The cabs were designed by C. Lindsey Designs, LLC, which provides custom and standard cabs and elevator interiors. Two of the passenger elevators were designed with safety-laminated translucent glass. The back half of the cars are framed with solid 3/8-in. stainless-steel bars and complemented with 1/2-in. clear glass panels. The side panels are plain sliced pecan veneer, and the suspended ceiling is 3/8-in. Varia Ecoresin recycled resin panels in Supermatte Ghost finish by 3form, LLC, headquartered in Salt Lake City. “These elegant elevators were designed with a faceted, glassy inner perimeter to maximize transparency, accessibility and visibility and to reinforce the multilevel scenery,” observes MCE.

A Celebration

EMR and DPR joined the festivities during the grand opening on February 23. Alumni and donors got to see the elevators and escalators in full operation. The celebration was a momentous occasion, as UT unveiled a multilevel, site-specific mural that internationally renowned artist José Parlá created for the grand entrance to the Zlotnik Family Ballroom. The 4,000-sq.-ft. mural was placed directly next to the escalators and is a major building feature that conveys the spirit of the greater Austin community. EMR regards the project as a success, particularly its partnership with Anlev, stating:

“The power-saving mode function was provided on all four escalators and has been reliably effective. Of course, the outstanding technical support from Anlev helped greatly. They even sent out one of their engineers, who administered software training to our technicians. We look forward to working with Anlev on many more projects.”

References

[1] “New Rowling Hall is the Future of Business Education at UT Austin,”

Jackie Herrera is Regional Sales & Marketing manager at EMR. She is based in Arlington.