Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

November 20, 1997

Plans made for some ancient Pitt elevators to enter the modern age

That the elevator sys- tem in the Cathedral of Learning is 65 years old and has not undergone a major upgrade since 1971 probably comes as little surprise to anybody who has had to wait to crowd into one of its cars.

But those bad old days may soon be ending. Beginning in the first quarter of 1998, the Office of Facilities Management will launch a major, multi-year renovation of the University's "vertical transportation systems" (elevators and escalators), including the notorious ones in the Cathedral of Learning.

Other buildings with elevators and/or escalators slated for upgrading next year are Salk Hall, Salk Dental Annex, Thackeray Hall and Victoria Hall. The renovations, which will cost about $1 million in capital budget funds, are designed to improve elevator efficiency and escalator safety, according to the Office of Facilities Management.

Plans also are being developed for the upgrade of elevators and/or escalators in Allen Hall, Benedum Hall, Chevron Science Center, Clapp Hall, Craig Hall, Crawford Hall, Forbes Quadrangle, the Graduate School of Public Health, Hillman Library, Langley Hall, the Learning Research and Development Center, Old Engineering Hall, the Library and Information Science Building, the law school and Space Research. Upgrades to the second group of buildings will be undertaken as funds become available. No work schedule has yet been developed for this group of upgrades, said Ana Guzman, interim associate vice chancellor for Facilities Management. Pitt annually allocates about $6 million for upgrades to building infrastructure, Guzman said. Facilities Management wants to use part of that money each year for improvements to the University's more than 150 elevators and escalators.

"Every year we will keep applying [to the University administration] for funding," Guzman said. "If we were to put in only for elevators we would not be able to do anything else. We feel by phasing elevator renovations into several years, then we will be able to continue the project." Guzman will not know how many phases might be required to upgrade all of Pitt's elevators and escalators until a report is completed by Myer Johns & Strong, an elevator consulting firm based in New York City. That report is expected in the near future. "Once we have all the costs together, then we are going to complete something like a master plan on how much we will be able to do per year," Guzman said.

As far as next year's projects are concerned, Guzman said, most work will be done at low traffic periods, such as nights and during spring break. Still, she added, "It will cause at least a month of problems for users of the buildings." Elevators in the Cathedral of Learning, Salk Hall, Salk Dental Annex and Thackeray will be equipped with microprocessor-based controls and dispatching systems that will continuously monitor operations and assign cars as service demands require. According to Facilities Management, the new dispatching systems can be programmed to anticipate elevator demands so that cars are stationed at floors with the most demand, instead of the floor where they last stopped. The change is expected to result in both reduced travel time and waiting time.

The elevators in the Cathedral of Learning also will be equipped with solid state motor drives that have fewer moving parts and so require less maintenance. In combination with the microprocessor controllers, according to Facilities Management, the solid state motor drives will provide smoother and faster acceleration and deceleration.

Once those mechanical upgrades have been completed and service speeded up, Guzman said, the consultants have recommended that Facilities Management open up all floors in the Cathedral of Learning so that the elevators stop at each floor. When that might happen, however, Guzman could not say.

"Right now," she said, "we cannot do that because there are occupants in some of the lobbies. But the idea is, as those occupants find other locations for their activities, we will open some of the doors. That can be done at almost any time." In addition to the upgrades, Facilities Management has been working with Schindler Elevator Corp. of Pittsburgh to improve maintenance of Pitt's elevators and escalators. Increased emphasis has been placed on preventive maintenance. Six full-time elevator technicians have been assigned to campus Monday through Friday. Technicians also are available for emergency service around the clock.

"We can now move them [service personnel] from one area to another and locate them in the areas where we feel they are needed the most," Guzman said, "which is very important." –Mike Sajna n

Filed under: Feature,Volume 30 Issue 7

Leave a Reply