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Old Posted Jan 23, 2015, 3:24 PM
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World's Longest Commutes by Elevator


World’s Longest Commutes, by Elevator
We calculate the ‘elevator miles’ logged by residents of super-tall condo towers around the world.

Jan. 22, 2015

Luxury high-rises are all the rage, with colossal apartment towers sprouting across the globe. But while living a quarter of a mile in the sky is no doubt thrilling, the commute downstairs can be a doozy.

Just how far do residents of these super-tall towers travel every year? Spread Sheet set out to measure the vertical commute.

Upon completion in 2016, Mumbai’s World One tower will be the tallest purely residential building in the world, topping out at 1,450 feet, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a nonprofit that tracks the official heights of tall buildings.

Assuming one trip down and up each day, a top-floor dweller would cover around 200 miles a year in elevator travel. Make that two trips a day (say, you forgot to buy milk) and you’re up to 400 miles a year, slightly longer than the drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

The resident on the top floor of 1,397-foot-tall 432 Park Avenue in Manhattan making two round-trips a day would log around 356 elevator miles each year—the equivalent of two trips out to the Hamptons and back. Someone living in a third-floor walk-up in Midtown Manhattan, on the other hand, does around 5.5 miles a year—not even enough to get through Queens.

To keep trips as quick as possible, many towers use high-speed elevators, which can travel at up 2,000 feet a minute. These elevators use high-tech materials like polyurethane-coated belts and advanced alloys in their braking systems, but the main difference is size, says Jim Fortune, principal at elevator consultancy Fortune Shepler Saling, which has worked on super high-rises, including Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building at 2,722 feet. A motor driving a typical 500-foot-a-minute elevator can fit in about 27 cubic feet, he says. On the other hand, a high-speed motor like those in a super tower takes up about half a room.

Given the travel involved, buyers considering a super high-rise would be well advised to check out the building’s elevator system before purchasing, Mr. Fortune says.

Typically, these buildings use systems of express and local elevators, with express cars carrying passengers to lobbies spaced throughout the structure where they then connect to local lifts. However, he says, some planned towers are too narrow to accommodate such systems, raising the possibility that they will be, as he puts it, “under-elevatored.”

One potential saving grace, he notes, is that, given many of these building are targeting the globe-trotting elite, much of the time no one will be home anyway.

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