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Cobo Convention Center, Detroit, Michigan

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Completed EcoMod installation

4. Escalators, Modernization

submitted by Brian Diviney, KONE

known as one of the nation’s largest convention centers, the Cobo Convention Center is undergoing a US$299-million expansion and upgrade. Phase 1 of the project included the modernization of 12 of the existing 30-year-old glass-balustrade escalators. KONE was awarded the contract in 2010 and completed the phase in 2011.

Building owner Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority began project discussions in 2009. The existing equipment was in a state of disrepair, and a complete escalator replacement was originally considered. However, such an approach presented various challenges. KONE then partnered with the center to review the site conditions and determine the best course of action.

From an accessibility point of view, there were numerous challenges presented by a complete escalator replacement. The equipment in question served four different levels of the facility, and multiple access points would have to be created in the exterior of the building to get the old units out and new ones in. In addition, the proximity of many of the units inside the existing structure presented significant (if not impossible) rigging and hoisting challenges.

In addition to the accessibility issues, a complete replacement would have added general construction costs. Though the escalators’ exterior cladding were primarily drywall, several other factors would have contributed to added costs if a replacement had been implemented. Many of the escalators had operating vendor and retail locations directly underneath them, all of which would have needed to have been shut down, demolished and rebuilt to accommodate the truss removal and replacement process. In addition, the size of the existing escalator wellways may have required increases in some locations, which would also have added structural modification costs.

Another concern of the customer’s was that of the level of disruption to business activities should a complete replacement occur. It was critical for the facility to remain in complete operation. A replacement would have created significant traffic-flow problems, unacceptable noise levels and construction debris, as well as consumed a large amount of floor space, which would have been needed to provide protective barricades and hoisting needs.

After reviewing the site, KONE outlined the advantages of its EcoMod™ solution and the installation process. The solution met the needs and was approved for the project. The modules and equipment were brought through the existing doors without causing any damage in the building’s curtain wall. All 12 escalators were modernized in three phases and simplified the building’s traffic flow, because it enabled side-by-side units to be modernized at separate times. Businesses located under the escalators continued to operate throughout the installation, and all existing cladding and structural conditions remained intact, leaving minimal debris.

Credits

  • Owner: Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority
  • Management company: SMG
  • Elevator consultant: National Elevator Consultants, Inc.
  • Installer: KONE (Detroit project team)
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