Montgomery in the News

When a shopping mall elevator in Abbotsford, Canada, got a shout-out on Vancity Elevators, a YouTube channel focused on vertical transportation, it caught the attention of the local media. The Abbotsford News website recently posted a story under the headline: “VIDEO: Abbotsford elevator praised on YouTube,” complete with link to the Vancity Elevators upload, which you can watch by clicking on the image above. The article says the elevator, a Montgomery hydraulic unit, was installed in 1975, nearly 45 years ago. It goes on to note that the Vancity Elevators post titles the video as “EPIC MOTOR!!,” with the article’s author surmising the “classic purr” was “pleasing to the user.” While Montgomery Elevator Co. may no longer be around, it’s nice to know that its elevators are still hard at work and appreciated by the riding public.

Cash Crunch Idles Escalators

A sign directs people away from an escalator at UN headquarters in NYC. People instead must use stairs or an elevator; photo via IPS.

The United Nations in October turned to austerity measures, including the shutdown of the escalators in its NYC headquarters building, after some of its annual member-country contributions — including from the U.S. — became past-due, leaving the intergovernmental organization strapped for cash. According to the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency, some of these measures have put a serious crimp in the U.N.’s mission, such as cutbacks on translation and interpretation services, travel and operating hours. Officials have acknowledged, however, that the escalator shutdowns are meant more as a symbolic gesture to draw attention to the missed payments, rather than a substantial money-saving move. Complaints by diplomats resulted in restoration of escalator service to floors used by envoys, but a moving staircase used mostly by U.N. staffers and journalists remains shut down. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the U.N. spends about US$14,000 to operate the escalator, and repeated questions from reporters have led to the suggestion of using the recently installed Gandhi Solar Park — a US$1-million, 50-kW solar array that was a gift from the Government of India — to power the idled unit. “I’m barely a spokesman,” Dujarric said in response to the suggestion. “I don’t think I’m an electrical engineer, but I will see where that electricity goes.” A U.N. official said the austerity measures are only temporary, and that full services would be restored once cash-flow problems are resolved.

Five Decades of Innovation

When it opened in 1969, 875 North Michigan Avenue (then the John Hancock Center) in Chicago represented cutting-edge construction technology, becoming the first high-rise building to employ a braced-tube structural system; photo courtesy of CTBUH.

In recognition of its founding in 1969, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has spent 2019 looking at the past five decades of skyscraper construction and development, as well as imagining what the next five decades might bring — hence, its 50th anniversary theme, “50 Forward | 50 Back.” The celebration will come to a head at the end of this month with the CTBUH 10th World Congress in Chicago. As in previous events, the congress will feature workshops, presentations, panel discussions and a symposium. The special focus, however, will be “The 50 Most Influential Tall Buildings of the Last 50 Years,” a global roster of landmark structures that, each in its own way, “represented a significant change in thinking or technique” from what came before. The list includes 1969’s 875 North Michigan Avenue (the former John Hancock Center) in Chicago; the Lotte World Tower in Seoul (2017) and the Burj Khalifa (2010), Dubai’s awe-inspiring megatall. Whether it was construction technique, environmental friendliness or outside-the-box architectural design, each building on the list had a notable role in advancing the art and science of the skyscraper, one of humankind’s most iconic creations.

CTBUH is expecting more than 1,500 delegates from at least 45 countries to attend the congress, which opens on October 28. An online registration portal will be open until October 18, so there’s still time to sign up. For more information or to register, visit the CTBUH website’s 2019 program page.