Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Elevator Modernization Project in the Cathedral of Learning

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Here is the information on the elevator project in the Cathedral of Learning:

Cathedral of Learning Elevator Upgrades

                                                                                                                                                          
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 42-story Cathedral of Learning is the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere.  The current elevator control system and elevator equipment are not capable of efficiently handling the large volume of passengers passing through the Cathedral each day.  As part of the University’s 12-Year Facilities Plan, the Cathedral elevators are scheduled to be modernized to improve traffic flow through the building. The original Cathedral elevator system, manufactured by Westinghouse, was installed in 1931.  The elevators were upgraded in 1971 and again in 1998, but those upgrades were of limited scope and provided marginal improvement.  Over the years, additional efforts to improve service included reducing the number of stops for many elevators, requiring passengers to travel to a floor near their destination and then walk up or down a floor or two.  The original Westinghouse hoisting machines, which move the elevators through the shafts, are still in use today and are operating significantly beyond their expected service life.  The new system will take advantage of new emerging destination based elevator technology to significantly decrease the time to destination and increase reliability of the system. 

This project will provide a comprehensive modernization of the building’s 8 main elevators with what is referred to as a “destination based” dispatching system.  With a destination based system, passengers enter their desired destination on a kiosk or keypad and are immediately directed to the elevator that will take them to their selected floor.  The system serves the building more efficiently by grouping passengers according to their destination, thereby reducing the number of stops each car will make.  This will allow many of the previously deactivated floor stops to be reactivated, providing greater elevator coverage to more floors and direct access to floor destinations for most passengers.  Touch screen kiosks will be installed on the ground and first floors, and the remaining floors will be fitted with smaller keypads.  There will be no floor buttons to select once passengers enter the car.  Instead, an in-car display will indicate the stops to be served during that specific trip.  The modernization includes replacing the elevator control system, hoisting equipment, doors, and cabs and installing new safety devices.  Some lobbies will also be modified as openings are reactivated.  The shuttle elevator that services floors 36 to 40 will also be replaced.  When completed, the modernization will provide greatly improved efficiency in handling capacity and significantly reduced wait times.  This system is expected to also reduce congestion on the ground and first floor elevator lobbies during peak demand times and significantly improve the reliability of the elevators. Mechanical and electrical upgrades will also be completed to support the new system and to meet current codes.  The new system will also comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and will be more energy efficient.  


The modernization of the elevators has already begun.  The contractor is currently aligning the existing rails which the cars ride on.  This work should be complete by October.  The work to modernize the elevator cabs and control system will begin in December, 2014 and all work is scheduled to be complete in the spring of 2016.  During this period, two (2) elevators will be taken out of service at a time in order to perform the modernization.  Each group of two elevators, one high rise and one low rise, is slated to take three (3) to four (4) months to complete.  Final project completion is expected in the spring of 2016.  After each group of elevators is complete, there will be a transition when both the old call button system and the new destination system kiosks and keypads will be in operation.  It will be important during this transition to pay close attention to which elevator to board.  Facilities Management will make every effort to ease this transition through directional signage and informational updates as the project progresses.  The work in the elevator shafts and machine rooms will take place primarily during the day, but disruption should be minimal.  The lobby work to reactivate door openings will take place from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.  The progress of the modernization can be followed on Facebook by searching University of Pittsburgh Cathedral Elevator Modernization and Twitter @Cathedralelev. 

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