Web Exclusive – November 2017

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thyssenkrupp Gives West Coast High Rise the First OEOs in the U.S.”

thyssenkrupp has outfitted San Francisco's 181 Fremont, a mixed-use high rise, with 14 OEOelevators; photo by 181 Fremont Residences.

When the 802-ft.-tall 181 Fremont opens this year, it will be San Francisco’s tallest mixed-use high rise. If that isn’t impressive enough, social media pioneer Facebook is leasing all 436,000 sq. ft. of the building's office space. Even still, the really big news is that thyssenkrupp has given this skyscraper, smack in the heart of earthquake country, the first Occupant Evacuation Operation (OEO) elevators in the U.S. In fact, 14 of the building’s 17 elevators will offer the capability. In addition to offices, 181 Fremont will house condos and retail space.

“The number of high-rise buildings has tripled since 2000, as more and more people gravitate toward living or working in cities,” Rich Hussey, CEO of thyssenkrupp Elevator’s Americas Business Unit, said in announcing the installations. “The implementation of OEO-enabled elevators in U.S. high-rise buildings is a critically important step toward ensuring people’s safety in the event of an emergency, and it’s only the beginning. In the near future, hopefully, many of the high-rise buildings being designed in major markets will incorporate OEO functionality for their elevators.”

OEO-enabled elevators provide the most efficient and quickest evacuation during emergencies by combining the use of stairwells and elevators. OEOs also provide greater peace of mind for tenants by reducing the panic and confusion commonly associated with a building evacuation, while also better accommodating those challenged by age, health or restricted mobility. Another benefit of OEO systems is revenue based: by eliminating a third egress stairwell, there is more usable/rentable space available.

These elevators are built with safeguards that help keep water, heat and smoke from getting into the elevator lobby or hoistway. In the event of a power outage, these elevators can run on backup power. When there is an emergency, the building alarm systems activate OEO-enabled elevators and provide audible instructions to floor occupants. The elevators then prioritize evacuation by specific zones; in a total building evacuation, floors farthest from the discharge level have priority. Using a variable message system, each elevator car visually and audibly communicates with passengers on how to proceed. Hall station screens communicate elevator service status for those in the hallway.

The creation of OEO systems is directly tied to research conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology at the direction of Congress following the events of 9/11. This research examined building evacuation processes and ultimately resulted in changes to the nation’s building codes, as well as fire-alarm codes.