Otis A rendering of Otis' proposed elevator tower in Shenzen, China.

The ongoing jockeying to build the world’s tallest skyscraper is fueling another race to the top: the quest to construct the world’s tallest elevator test tower. This week, Farmington, Conn.–based global elevator manufacturer Otis pulled ahead in the latter competition, announcing its plans to build an 886-foot-tall tower in Shanghai to test its lifts. Upon completion, Otis’ facility will be the tallest elevator test tower in the world, besting competitor ThyssenKrupp’s roughly 800-foot-tall tower in Rottweil, Germany, which is slated for completion this year, and well exceeding the typical test tower, which is roughly 300 feet tall, Dezeen reports.

Otis is among the vertical-transportation companies whose lift systems have been used in the spate of iconic, mega-high-rise buildings shooting up around the world, including: the 2,722-foot-tall Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, currently the world’s tallest building; the 1,965-foot-tall Ping An Financial Center in Shenzhen, China; South Korea’s tallest building, the 1,633-foot-tall Lotte World Tower, in Seoul; and the 1,500-foot-tall CN Tower in Toronto, the tallest building in North America. And just as supertalls are showpieces for the municipality or region in which they are constructed, so, too, is this new class of elevator test tower—ThyssenKrupp’s, for example, boasts a helix design from Helmut Jahn, FAIA, and Werner Sobek, and is topped with a viewing tower to draw tourists.

With more than 100 supertall structures—those 984 feet or taller—scheduled to be built in the next five years, it’s imperative that the companies whose products and technologies go into those (and other smaller but more complex) structures also expand their research and development efforts to new, if less dramatic, heights. Otis expects its tower to be completed in 2018.

Listen: Learn more about the intersection of gamification and urban planning in the latest episode of our new podcast, ArchitectChats. [ARCHITECT]

Researchers from MIT’s Sustainable Design Lab explored a new model for computing climate-based daylighting performance metrics for urban environments. The simulation-based analysis was tested on 50 block typologies in New York City. [Building Research and Information]

Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) announced its fourth-annual William A. Doebele Fellowship in Community Design, which affords winners a 10-week summer internship in the nonprofit or government sectors to explore the role of socially responsible design in achieving equity. [Harvard GSD]


French automaker Peugeot’s Design Lab is rethinking the solar-charging station with the Driveco Parasol (shown above), which features a wooden frame with wing-like canopies whose roof-mounted photovoltaic panels collect solar energy for its integral lithium ion batteries, and a smart-grid hookup. [Gizmag]

Solar-powered desalination is gaining traction as a solution—albeit a costly one—to processing fresh water without burning fossil fuels. [MIT Technology Review]

Watch (but don’t blink) as the Hyperloop One completes its first public, open-air test run. [The Verge]