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The winners of our nine categories of the 2016 ELEVATOR WORLD Project of the Year contest literally span the globe – from North America to Europe, from Wales to Hong Kong and on to the Middle East. Every year in August, we anticipate the submissions’ arrivals as they come flying into the office in every kind of format. Some are even wrapped as gifts! The process of turning them around to go out to our judges is frantic. We are grateful to the hardworking judges from our Technical Advisory Group, who eagerly volunteered their time and expertise. It is clear from the scope of these works that construction had a good year in 2015 and is looking forward to a strong 2016.

We lead off with the cover project, One World Observatory SkyPods at One WTC, in New York City. It won the category of “Elevators, New Construction.” Submitted by The Hettema Group, the pods are an integration of elevator and media. They provide a time-lapse experience, in addition to being the highest and fastest elevators in the Northwestern Hemisphere. From here, we go to Wales, where LECS (UK) Ltd.’s submission won the “Inclined Elevators” category with the EBBW Vale Inclined Lift. EBBW was a steelworks that closed and was cleaned and converted to a site for colleges, housing and leisure activities. The inclined lift by Doppelmayr goes from the site to the city center 30 m above. Then, we move on to Hong Kong with Great Eagle Centre, submitted by Jardine Schindler Hong Kong for the “Elevators, Modernization” category. The modernization converted the elevators to use the PORT destination-control system and reduced travel time by 10%. The winner of “Escalators, New Construction” was submitted by ThyssenKrupp Southern Europe, Africa and Middle East (SEAME) for Rome Subway Line C. This was a massive project of 50 escalators in 24 stations. Much of the project was underground and impinged on historical sites and artifacts that had to be preserved.

Returning to New York for the category of “Escalators, Modernization,” the winner was New York State – OGS, Historic State Capitol Escalator Replacement, submitted by KONE Inc. The 27-year-old escalator system required excessive maintenance and repair when the Office of General Services (OGS) chose EcoMod™ as the best solution. KONE worked within a tight timeframe of six months when the state legislature was not in session. Also in New York, Handi-Lift Inc. submitted the platform lift at The Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater in Lincoln Center. This lift was put in place 20 years ago by the same team that modernized it this year in all glass and bronze like the original. Staying in North America, we go to Vancouver, Canada, where UT Elevator Inc. installed a Mitered Glass Elevator, which won the “Private-Residence Elevators” category. The elevator has frameless sliding glass doors with the door operator underneath. Not only are the elevator and hoistway all glass, but the cab rises into a huge skylight.

For our new “Special-Purpose Lifts” category, we move back to Europe for La Muela II Hydroelectric Power Plant in Valencia, Spain. Submitted by ThyssenKrupp SEAME, the elevators are in an enormous cavern. One traction elevator rides in a 182.8-m-long shaft to the surface. ThyssenKrupp SEAME also won the “Moving Walks” category for the Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Medina, Saudi Arabia. There are 29 moving walks, most of which are iwalks. These are slim and lighter weight with adjustable power usage.

Our world tour of project winners shared the stage this month with Interlift 2015, which was the largest ever. The forum and exhibits were designed to address the new EN 81-20/50 standards to be implemented. European Lift Association President Jorge Ligüerre suggested that “microbursts of learning” would be needed for the new standards. Achim Hütter, president of VFA-Interlift e.V., deemed Interlift 2015 a “brilliant success.”

Looking to next year, we gaze into the crystal ball for the most recent figures. In the U.S., construction spending hit a seasonally adjusted rate of US$1.11 trillion, the highest level since December 2007. Even though growth there is slowing, China has more than 700,000 elevators in service. Experts say Europe’s market for construction is projected to grow by up to 3% per annum. There is plenty to be excited about in 2016. Happy New Year!

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