The World’s Fastest Elevator
Gensler's Shanghai Tower (2014) will use ultra high-speed elevators by Mitsubishi. Image by Gensler Architects.
As historians of the skyscraper will tell you, the modern high-rise was born from the serendipitous combination of two concurrent technologies: the steel frame and the elevator. Naturally, technology refuses to stand still, as is the case with both of these critical elements of tall buildings.
Elevator technology in particular has had to advance to meet the needs of occupants in the new breed of supertall buildings. The current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, is equipped with observatory elevators that travel at 10 meters per second, or 36 kilometers per hour.
This month, Mitsubishi announced the development of the fastest elevator in the world—capable of reaching 1,000 meters per minute, or 60 kilometers per hour. This elevator will be used in the new Shanghai Tower designed by Gensler, which will be the second tallest building in the world at 632 meters when it is completed in 2014.
Clearly, safety must be a paramount concern for such rapid vertical travel, and Mitsubishi claims several safety measures—including the latest hydraulic driven disk brakes and fine ceramic-based safety gear shoes that provide resistance to heat, shock, and abrasion in the event that safety gear is activated.