Elevator-Pitch Competition

The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) announced the winners of the Elevate Your Pitch competition.

The elevator-pitch competition, judged by members of Schindler Elevator Corporation, was based on the premise of giving a quick description of a business and/or idea in the time it would take to ride up an elevator (about 60 s), AIAS said in a press release.

The competition, which ran from February-June 2019, gave students the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win one of three cash prizes. The panel of judges chose the top three entries to compete in the finals at the AIAS Grassroots Leadership Conference on July 18-21, 2019.

The winners of the competition were:

First Place | $2,500

The Supply Machine, submitted by Joey Sandoval and Ethan Herrold of the University of Colorado Boulder, is a conveniently located pop-up style vending machine for essential, must-have design materials.

Second Place | $1,000

The Patch Wand, submitted by Joshua Greene of California Baptist University, is a handheld scanner designed to repair objects and reduce waste by enabling clients to 3D print “patches.”

Third Place | $500

Sum of its Parts, submitted by Randa Malkawi and Luke Rumage of the Washington Alexandria Architecture Center of Virginia Tech, is a series of unique outdoor furniture that invites everyone to interact with it and create their own space.

For more information on the competition, visit aias.org/pitch.

Smithsonian.com Explores the “Strange World That is the Escalator”

Detail from Jesse Reno’s 1902 patent for the “Inclined Elevator”; U.S. Patent 708,663 via Smithsonian.com

Smithsonian.com recently explored the “strange world that is the escalator” in “How the Escalator Forever Changed Our Sense of Space.” The piece takes readers through the early history of the invention, from a never-realized 1859 patent for “revolving stairs,” to Jesse Reno’s mechanical escalator that debuted to awestruck crowds in Coney Island, New York, to the piece of machinery most similar to the escalator of today — conceived by Charles Seeberger around the same time as Reno’s invention and acquired and marketed by Otis. The escalator stole the spotlight at the Paris Exposition of 1900, and quickly proved transformative to retail, the workplace and public transportation.

Of the Paris Expo, Smithsonian observed:

“Organizers and government officials were concerned how this exposition would make its mark — after the introduction of the Eiffel Tower at the fair in 1889, how could the [fair] 11 years later complete? Officials entertained many bizarre proposals, many of which involved alterations of the Eiffel Tower itself including the potential additions of clocks, sphinxes, terrestrial globes, and a 450-ft. statue of a woman with eyes made from powerful searchlights to scan the 562-acre fairgrounds.” It ended up, however, that the escalator “shone brightest” at the expo, winning Grand Prize and a Gold Metal for its “unique and functional design”

Otis trademarked the name “escalator,” but, like cellophane, kitty litter and aspirin, the term became so ubiquitous that competitor Haughton — since acquired by Schindler — successfully petitioned the US Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the trademark. Today, Otis and Schindler continue to be major players in a world in which the number of escalators doubles every 10 years.

thyssenkrupp escalator installation in Germany; photo courtesy of thyssenkrupp

Finland Memories: An Impressive Schindler Hotel Elevator

The elevator travels in a black-wire shaft.

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!

The Schindler elevator in Hotel Haven has a stylish stainless-steel and wood cab.

Detail of a ceiling in Hotel Haven