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Big projects on the horizon for London and a new award for lift engineering

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Vauxhall Cross Island; image by Slashcube

Rail System Seeks Bids for Nearly 300 VT Units

HS2, the U.K.’s high-speed rail network, has launched a search for contractors to design, deliver and maintain almost 300 vertical-transportation (VT) units for four major new stations, the system announced in April. The contracts, valued at up to GBP465 million (US$574.5 million), call for about 168 elevators and 128 escalators to be installed in the new stations in London and Birmingham, which will serve hundreds of thousands of passengers daily. The longest escalators will be at Old Oak Common, in west London, which will take passengers 13.5 m up from subsurface platforms to the concourse level. In total, the new station — where HS2 meets Crossrail services to Heathrow and the West End of London — will have more than 50 elevators and escalators. All the new stations will be built to the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method Excellent, which judges sustainable lifetime performance, and are designed to be zero-carbon facilities. Energy-efficient elevators and escalators will play a key role in achieving the standard.

The contracts will be divided into separate packages for elevators and escalators, with the winners appointed to general frameworks. This flexible approach will allow for potential changes in the number of units ordered as station designs are finalized. Contracts, expected to be awarded in 2021, will include maintenance for 20 years.

ZHA-Designed Mixed-Use Development Wins Approval in London

Vauxhall Cross Island, a mixed-use trio of towers up to approximately 55 stories tall across from Vauxhall Underground Station, has been approved by planning officials in South London, The Architect’s Newspaper was among outlets to report in April. The source described the Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA)-designed towers as “more subtle” than typical ZHA designs, though they still have the signature biomechanical look of the late architect’s creations. Having been opposed for years because of its scale, Vauxhall Cross Island is envisioned as a new town center for Vauxhall, with 257 apartments, offices, a hotel, retail space and a new public square. A timeline for the project, being developed by VCI Property Holding, had not been announced.

UoN, LECS Announce New Lift Engineering Award

The University of Northampton (UoN), in association with LECS (UK Ltd.), announced the introduction of the Alex MacDonald Award for Lift Engineering in April. The award, plus GBP200 (US$247) in prize money, will be presented every year to the UoN MSc Lift Engineering student whose master’s degree dissertation is deemed the most innovative and of highest quality. Its name is in memory of Alex MacDonald, a colleague of London-based vertical-transportation consultancy LECS, who died in February at the age of 29. LECS said he “was an outstanding engineer and a true professional. Having studied both architecture and engineering, he was leading a groundbreaking project in the Docklands set to attract worldwide attention for its bespoke design.” LECS Managing Director David Cooper commented:

“As an engineering consultant working in this area for 35-plus years, I am a keen supporter of ongoing education, learning and bringing new blood into the industry. Our dear colleague Alex MacDonald was a great example of the best of the next generation coming into this sector and is greatly missed by all who worked with him. It is a privilege to be managing director of LECS on its 30th anniversary; we hope this award will encourage all MSc students to push the boundaries in thought and research developments, as well as create a legacy for Alex, who was an exceptional engineer.”

Postgraduate Programme Leader for Lift Engineering at UoN Dr. Stefan Kaczmarczyk said:

“The university has been proud to be associated with LECS over the years and with [MacDonald], who studied here. We hope this annual award will inspire and motivate our students to achieve their academic and professional goals, while always remembering MacDonald.”

The inaugural award will be presented this year.

CTBUH Chairman Watts Shares Hopeful Message

Chairman of Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) Steve Watts, a partner in London-based cost-consulting company alinea, shared a letter, “Forced Apart But Working Together,” on April 7 touching on challenges of

the coronavirus pandemic, particularly how to strike a balance between saving lives and saving livelihoods, and ways the crisis could result in rebirth, renewal and better tall-building practices. This, he said, will hinge on cooperation and “new life being breathed into research and innovation.”

Watts sent well wishes to friends, colleagues and CTBUH supporters, and talked about how previous pandemics — the post-Great War (World War I) Spanish flu, the H2N2 virus of the late 1950s, and more recent diseases like the swine flu, SARS, MERS and Ebola — draw parallels to the current situation, which has presented “tensions [between] saving lives and protecting economies.”

Like many other entities, CTBUH staff members have transitioned to working remotely, with meetings like one for its board of trustees taking place via videoconference. The organization has many other initiatives planned, and Watts said information will be shared when it becomes available. “So, it is business as usual, even if the environment is anything but usual,” he said.

The COVID-19 situation will eventually subside, he said, and when it does, it may bring positive changes: more effective ways to work, better work/life balances and improved ways to build. “The proper embrace of technology, from building information modeling to industrial processes, may help support seamless connection and enthusiastic collaboration across disciplines and global lines,” he observed. A more “compassionate and thoughtful global community,” one focused on creating sustainable buildings, could emerge.

Sustainability is one of the key plenaries for the CTBUH 2020 International Conference, “Humanizing High Density—People, Nature & the Urban Realm,” planned in Singapore in October. The session aims to present “an honest debate about the cost of tall buildings, in financial, societal and carbon terms.” Watts said CTBUH continues to plan for the conference as it closely monitors the global situation. He said:

“There are, of course, some commentators predicting doom and gloom, and there will be difficult times ahead, for sure. But I think, as with past periods of extreme turbulence, there will be some longer-term good to come of it. One newspaper suggested recently, ‘Who is to say that this pandemic does not provide a turning point in world history?’”

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