by Elise King, KONE
photos by Paul Warchol Photography Inc.
In NYC, the city that never sleeps, the New York Marriott Marquis stands solidly at the heart of the action. With nearly 2,000 guest rooms and more than 100,000 ft2 of meeting space on seven floors, the hotel is the city’s largest and one of the busiest in the world. Home to the Marquis Theatre, the New York Marriott Marquis is also famous for its spectacular atrium lobby, rising 48 stories to The View, New York’s only rooftop revolving restaurant and lounge.
When a comprehensive renovation of the property’s lobby, guest rooms, restaurants, bars, ballrooms and meeting rooms was launched in 2018, modernization of the 12 escalators flowing through eight floors was a key part of the undertaking. Six pairs of escalators crisscross open space from floor to floor. Transporting thousands of guests to conferences and conventions, the escalators are a vital link in creating seamless people flow in a particularly heavily used portion of the hotel.
To avoid what would be incredibly complex and prohibitively costly challenges inherent in complete truss removal and replacement, the property owner opted instead for the innovative KONE EcoMod® solution. The fact that the modernization option minimized disruption of hotel guests and events was critically important, especially when compared with the upheaval associated with the alternative.
Construction noise is never a good thing. At the New York Marriott Marquis, where conventions and conferences routinely draw large crowds, such working sounds are particularly unwelcome. Noise management was KONE’s biggest challenge from day one, beginning with a two-week rip-out, typically the loudest part of the modernization process. The highly experienced KONE team readily accepted the challenges of modernizing escalators in a fully occupied hotel. KONE crews put a priority on accommodating the customer and the customer’s customers. Conference breaks, for instance, were “quiet times,” when there could be no construction-related noise. Ultimately, up to one-third of the project was conducted by a night shift crew in an effort to minimize noise and disruption during the day.
The KONE project management team worked closely with the hotel team to manage planned shutdowns. Schedules were assessed in weekly meetings with the escalator consultant, building engineer and hotel event manager. “KONE worked very collaboratively with us,” said Bill Michell, director of engineering at the New York Marriott Marquis.
There was no margin of error: A unit might be shut down Friday, but when a hotel customer arrives on Saturday, it has to be running. Maintenance was a key part of the equation: Reliable performance was absolutely essential.
KONE crews worked on one escalator at a time for most of the project. In the early months of the pandemic, however, the customer requested that an additional team be put on the job in an effort to accelerate progress during a period when hotel occupancy was low.
The hotel is so mammoth, few people understand what it takes to keep it going until they’re “behind the curtain.” A staggering amount of laundry and food is delivered daily to the hotel’s loading dock. Accordingly, KONE deliveries were carefully coordinated with the hotel’s event team. Adding another layer of complexity to night shift work, deliveries were prohibited during performances at an adjacent theater.
Just short of the project’s two-year mark, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. KONE crews responded immediately, implementing all applicable NYC safety protocols and doing their utmost to keep themselves, hotel guests and hotel employees safe. Temperature checks were conducted during security check-ins. Crews wore masks, utilized a cleaning station and maintained appropriate social distance. During periods when the hotel had little occupancy, team meeting participants stood 6 ft apart in large, open areas.
The innovative KONE EcoMod® solution significantly minimized disruption throughout the project. Because the escalators’ original trusses were retained, there was no need for costly and disruptive demolition. Modernizing one unit at a time ensured that movement through the hotel continued to flow in a smooth and seamless manner.
By inserting all-new escalators into existing trusses, the hotel gained cutting-edge technology, reduced energy consumption and operating costs, and launched a robust 25- to 30-year equipment lifecycle. Importantly, with the addition of innovative new devices, KONE EcoMod also delivers enhanced safety at the New York Marriott Marquis. The modernized escalators are fully equipped with safety features meeting all current codes and regulations.
Energy efficiency is also a plus. “Speed control is a really nice feature for us,” Michell said. “The escalators can be in the slow mode during periods of little use, but built-in sensors bring the speed up before an approaching person steps on.”
Increasing the visual appeal of the modernized escalators, new LED lights replaced dated-looking bulbs. The new lighting includes color change options, adding an enhanced product to the hotel’s offering.
Michell equates hotel renovation projects to conducting surgery without anesthesia. The New York Marriott Marquis escalator modernization was no different. “I had concerns,” he admitted. “At this hotel, we were not familiar with KONE. But I cannot say enough about KONE’s professionalism, efficient installation and outstanding project management.”
In any project, he noted, hiccups and speed bumps are inevitable. “KONE rose to every challenge,” he said. “They were very collaborative, with phenomenal upfront communication, outstanding communication throughout and, ultimately, outstanding execution. This is the one project in our renovation that stayed on schedule during COVID-19, and that’s a real testament to KONE.”
In the vertical-transportation mix at the New York Marriott Marquis, reliable escalators are critical to the hotel’s success. “This is a new-build product, treated as new from construction,” Michell said. “But, the service group is equally important. KONE Service worked hand-in-hand with construction. There’s been very minimal downtime. KONE’s responsiveness is really impressive.”
KONE Project Members
Members of the KONE EcoMod® team at the New York Marriott Marquis include Josh Homer, KONE project manager, Modernization; Installation Supervisor Chris Thompson; and Mechanic Nick Salamone.
Joshua Homer has eight years of industry experience, all at KONE. He has performed significant roles in elevator and escalator compliance and project management. In the past five years, Homer has been project manager on multiple highly successful KONE EcoMod™ projects, including about 60 escalators. In addition to New York Marriott Marquis, he has been the project manager for KONE EcoMod installations at Bergdorf Goodman, Stuyvesant High School, Winter Garden, Hunter College, John Jay College, Lord & Taylor and the Federal Reserve building at 180 Maiden Lane.
Christopher Thompson, with 21 years in the industry, has performed significant roles in elevator and escalator installation, service and supervision. In the past five years, Thompson has served as installation supervisor on multiple highly successful KONE EcoMod projects. In addition to New York Marriott Marquis, he has been the supervisor at Stuyvesant High School, FIT, Hunter College, John Jay College, Bergdorf Goodman, Kohl’s, Lord & Taylor, Winter Garden, 245 Park Avenue, Madison Square Garden and the Federal Reserve building at 180 Maiden Lane.
Nicholas Salamone has five years of industry experience, all at KONE. He has been a key contributor to the KONE New York escalator modernization team. In addition to New York Marriott Marquis, he has installed units at Bergdorf Goodman, FIT, Port Authority Bus Terminal and Lord & Taylor.
Escalator contractor: KONE Inc., NYC Branch
Property owner: Host Hotels & Resorts
Director of Engineering, New York Marriott Marquis: Bill Michell
Solutions: 12 KONE EcoMod escalators; KONE Care Remote Monitoring
Project timeline: May 2018 to March 2021
Escalator consultant: Lerch Bates
KONE contact: Damon Calacino, Regional Escalator Modernization Sales Manager, East Region Business Developer
Note: With the exception of a short period in 2020, the hotel’s escalators were modernized one at a time in an effort to minimize disruption.
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