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One World Trade Center: Innovative products meet impeccable service

From the first to the 102nd floor in 60 seconds. Our high-speed elevators transport 14,000 people each day to the platform of America’s tallest building: the One World Trade Center. The New York landmark is equipped with 71 elevators and 12 escalators from thyssenkrupp Elevator. Our mobility experts were involved in the entire project from initial planning to installation in 2015, and have since been maintaining the building’s mobility units – providing 24/7 availability.

An impressive project, which shaped the skyline of the Big Apple and requires special efforts both in planning and installation as well as in service – because higher buildings have higher demands. We have talked to some of our experts involved in the project and wanted to know what made thyssenkrupp Elevator the perfect fit to tackle a project of this size.

Tackling a megaproject from one single source

The key factors that convinced the client to choose thyssenkrupp Elevator were our reputation as a global leader in construction, service, and technology, and our proven track record in project management. “The magnitude of this project required us to engineer a solution before we presented a bid to our clients,” says Mark Schroeder, Director of New Installations at thyssenkrupp Elevator Americas. Additionally, our company’s efforts to continuously improve the customer experience and maintenance service, plus the time and resources invested to achieve this through better tools, training, and standardized processes, were other aspects that helped to convince the client.

Of course, the planning, development, and installation of elevators and escalators in a skyscraper of this size brings along great challenges. Almost all components had to be modified and altered in some way to fit the specific requirements of the One World Trade Center. “Everything had to be bigger, more powerful, and more advanced. The coordination, the integration, engineering, and assembly of all the components was very complex,” explains Schroeder. One tangible example: The length of the steel cable in one of the elevators alone is longer than the distance from New York City to Baltimore.

The New York One World Trade Center was a major challenge for our experts at thyssenkrupp Elevator.

Innovative solutions for challenges at dizzying heights

During the first seven years of the project, thyssenkrupp Elevator was involved in the construction of the building with almost 400 employees. A long period in which changing seasons and environmental conditions took a toll on the course of the project and required a great team effort. “Everyone worked hard, through heat waves, cold winters, and even Hurricane Sandy that caused floodwaters to pour into the elevator shafts,” remember our field engineers.

The installation of mobility solutions at dizzying heights was another exceptional challenge: Escalators are usually installed on the ground or underground level. In the case of the One World Trade Center, the 38,000-pound escalators had to be partially hoisted to the 100th floor. Scott Lahmers, field engineer, captured the process with his camera. “I took the photos to commemorate this day and the pride that each of the workers took in doing the job they do every day. These were the last two escalators to be installed at One World Trade Center. There was a sadness when we realized it was the last hoist for the job, as there probably won’t be another job of this significance in our lifetime.”

During the installation, our escalators actually had to be flown to the 100th floor.

In addition, buildings as tall as the 1,776-foot One World Trade Center can begin to sway back and forth in strong winds, an issue that previously led to deep holes in the shaft walls in other skyscrapers. In the case of the One World Trade Center our engineers and mathematicians simulated the movements of the building and developed a system with pulleys that weigh down the ropes and minimize the swaying effect in strong winds.

Customized engineering to keep the world moving

But this scenario is not the only example of thyssenkrupp Elevator’s innovative solutions for the New York landmark. A great deal of engineering has also gone into the so-called “rail clips” that connect the elevator rails to the building. They hold the rails in position and allow the material some leeway at the same time. An incredibly important aspect to prevent breakage.

“At a certain speed, air resistance can become an issue, when elevators travel up and down in narrow shafts. Similar to a subway train entering the station, the elevator cabin pushes an air wall in front of it,” explain our engineers. In the One World Trade Center the experts have attached wedge shapes to the top and bottom of the cabs to make them more aerodynamic. Additionally, the aluminum cladding of the high-speed elevators is designed to deflect air and increase the aerodynamics of the elevators. Our acoustics specialists helped design the car to reduce noise during travel, and active roller guides help minimize vibration and create a smoother ride.

Resilience through long-term maintenance

The One World Trade Center represents a milestone and lighthouse project for thyssenkrupp Elevator. Several million people travel up and down the New York landmark thanks to our innovative high-speed elevators – a result of years of planning and execution.

Although the construction of the One World Trade Center was completed five years ago, the numerous elevators and escalators within the building require regular maintenance and ongoing service to ensure passenger safety and comfort. Thus, the technical expertise and product quality that we provided to our customer during the installation of our mobility units is complemented with the high-quality service we performed after the installation phase – making the One World Trade Center one of thyssenkrupp Elevators major reference projects.

For us as a business, providing service and maintenance for the units we install, means having long-lasting relationships with our customers and creating resilience for our company.