GlaxoSmithKline Canadian Head Office

GSK Canadian Head Office

KONE modernizes the hydraulic elevators in an office and manufacturing facility.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is a science-led, global healthcare company and one of the largest R&D organizations in Canada, with its head office in Mississauga, Ontario. GSK researches and develops products primarily in pharmaceuticals, vaccines and consumer healthcare.

When the five hydraulic elevators at its Canadian headquarters needed to be modernized, GSK saw the opportunity to do more than simply replace the units. The company sought to take advantage of the latest elevator technology and improve the building’s energy efficiency.

The elevators were originally installed in 1991 by Montgomery Elevator and were scheduled for modernization in 2012 by KONE. Generally, equipment has a 20-25-year lifetime, and, depending on the operating environment, that lifetime can be even less.

Initially, GSK weighed the options of installing new hydraulic units versus machine-room-less (MRL) equipment. The goal was to remove the old hydraulic cylinders, which were buried underground, and ensure they were not negatively impacting the environment. The company also wanted to utilize the latest technology to reduce the building’s carbon footprint and maximize the level of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED®) certification. To further help decisionmaking, GSK engaged the elevator consulting firm Ayling Consulting Services Inc. to ensure the new equipment would be contaminant free.

After weighing the options, GSK decided to fully replace the existing elevators with the MRL option — the KONE EcoSpace EB™, which features the energy-efficient KONE EcoDisc™ gearless hoisting machine and would fit into the existing hoistways in the building. The KONE EcoSpace EB™ was chosen because of its ability to significantly reduce energy costs and, unlike the hydraulic elevators, ensure oil-free, environmentally friendly operation.


As an interesting wrinkle, the existing elevators were not all uniform. The five elevators were situated in two separate buildings that were part of the same complex. One building contained two of the elevators — one passenger car and one hospital car — that both served three landings. The other building contained three passenger cars — two that served four landings and one that served five.

Overall, there were limited structural modifications required to the base of the building, but the modernization process was unique for each unit:

  • Out of three elevators grouped in one building, one required the vertical extension of its hoistway but no penetration of the building roof. The other two required the removal of their existing hoistway ceiling slabs to extend their hoistways by about 6 m. Because the hoistways were contained within the building’s mechanical penthouse, some mechanical equipment needed to be relocated to accommodate the extension.
  • Additional divider beams had to be added for two of the elevators to accommodate new elevator guide-rail-bracket supports.
  • One elevator required a new pit floor slab to reinforce the existing slab and accommodate the new car and counterweight buffer impact reactions.

Additional changes made during the installation process included:

  • Opening entrance walls to permit the repositioning of the entrance frame and accommodate new counterweight placement
  • Opening the front wall of one elevator to allow for a single slide entrance to better accommodate a mobile stretcher
  • Updating existing machine-room electrical services to fit the requirements of the new MRL equipment

Minimal Disruption

GSK wanted to ensure the modernization process would not significantly impact its staff, who would continue to occupy and work within the building during the entire project. Because of this, an after-hours test was conducted on the noise impact of the installation to ensure the noise would not be detrimental to ongoing building operations. Certain aspects of the construction were also scheduled after hours, such as demolition work of existing hoistway ceiling slabs.

The set of three elevators were modernized first, one car at a time, then the pair of elevators were modernized next, so elevators could still be in use during the project.


When the modernization process was complete, the benefits went beyond cost savings. The cars run smoothly and quietly and are able to make more stops per hour. End users also no longer have to experience frequent breakdowns. “The elevators are working great and a lot more reliably than the old elevators,” said Cyrus Mirmansouri, senior project manager at Sodexo. “They are fast and smooth.”

The equipment also conforms to the latest codes and standards, and one elevator is now code compliant for the use of stretchers. Also, in the event of a power outage, all five cars are now able to operate on emergency power, whereas only two cars could operate in such an event beforehand.

By foregoing the option to simply replace the old hydraulic units with new hydraulic units, no drilling was required, which would have had associated risks of costly and disruptive work.

An environmental consultant was brought in to meter the energy consumption prior to the modernization to determine the energy reduction afterward. Based on the energy savings, a rebate in the area of CAD16,000 (US$12,232) is expected from the federal energy program.


Modernizing the five elevators at GSK’s head office was no small construction project, but disruption was kept to a minimum and the benefits were significant.

The new KONE EcoSpace EB™ units use significantly less energy and provide end users with a smooth, comfortable and reliable ride. Since they do not use oil, the new units are also more environmentally friendly than the former hydraulic ones.

The modernization process also took place while employees were able to continue working in the building, and no significant structural changes needed to be made.

“GSK is proud of its environmental stewardship, and we had great confidence in KONE, their product and the installation team to help deliver on that promise,” said Cathy Provencher, site director, Worldwide Real Estate & Facilities, GlaxoSmithKline Inc. “The results speak for themselves: minimal disruption, high performance and significant energy and environmental benefits. We could not be more pleased.”

Get more of Elevator World. Sign up for our free e-newsletter.

Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

An Innovative Elevator System, Part Two


Fred Hymans and the Theory of Rope Traction, Part One


The Chicago Cubs and the 2016 CTBUH Best Tall Building Symposium


Organizations, mobility company have new leaders.


Full-Cab A18.1/B355 Lifts – An Alternative to LU/LA Elevators


Europe’s Slimmest Residential Tower on Tap in Rotterdam


Opening Doors


Step and Safety Solutions