Hotels built prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have a decided disadvantage when meeting the needs of potential customers. With only stairs to transport guests to upper floors, people with some disabilities have limited choice of the rooms they can occupy. It also means that people who do not want to carry luggage up a flight of stairs may seek other accommodations.
This issue will likely grow. With the graying of America, the number of disabled persons will continue to increase from the 57 million current reported by the US Census Bureau. That is a whole lot of people that a hotel without an elevator may not be serving well, or at all.
Since the passage of the ADA in 1990, it has become an expectation that access will be provided. However, many older hotels are not accessible beyond the first floor, and although it is perfectly legal for older hotels to be grandfathered in and avoid ADA requirements, it may not make for the best customer experience. This can also lead to a lower rate per room for higher floors. To combat this problem, one hotelier was able to meet his patrons needs by placing a modular elevator on the exterior of the existing structure.
An ancillary benefit of the modular elevator addition is that employees were no longer lugging heavy laundry carts and other items up and down stairs. The elevator increased staff productivity and morale while also reducing the potential for work-related accidents and injuries. It was a win for the hotel, not only because it opened new possibilities for customer and employees, but because the installation was easy and fast.
For a commercial-quality modular solution, another benefit is time. A hotel does not have to close its doors for an extended period of time during installation, as a modular elevator is lowered into place by a crane in under half a day, and installation can be completed in a week.
The end result is a more profitable, safer hotel that provided access to more potential customers and a way for workers to be more efficient and productive.
What is the difference in the two elevators pictured above? $100,000 and 30 weeks.
One of the most common questions we get asked is, “Will installing a modular elevator save us money?” The typical–and honest–answer is that it depends on multiple factors. But we were fortunate to recently encounter a real world example of two comparable projects, one stick-built and one modular, where we know the full build costs on each. And the results are stunning.
The two jobs are pictured above. They were both in Southern Illinois, in 2016, about 30 miles apart. Both were retrofits on the exterior of brick buildings. Both were 2-story buildings, though the modular had an extra ground-level stop on the rear.
The elevator on the right was stick-built. It was a bid job, and the total construction cost, including all the site work, hoistway construction, and elevator installation, was $249,998. The project took 10 months from start to finish.
The elevator on the left was modular. It looks shorter than the stick-built elevator on the right, because it accesses the basement, so one of the stops is below ground. The total construction cost was around $150,000. And because the GC dug the footings and poured the pit while the modular elevator was under construction, total project duration was 2 1/2 months.
So is there always a cost savings with Phoenix Modular Elevator? Again hard to say, as it depends on many factors that vary by geography. We do know that modular always saves time. And if you are in the market for a high-quality commercial elevator, why not find out if modular will save you money as well? In 5 minutes we can give you budget pricing to allow you to compare.
Being raised in the the 1960’s and 70s, my friends and I actually lived scenes from movies like Stand By Me and The Sandlot, as well as television shows such as The Wonder Years. We were close-knit compadres, and many life lessons sprung from the hijinx and innocence of suburban neighborhood living in small town America. Even today when the “gang” gets together to reminisce about days past, there are still nuggets of knowledge that we glean from the stories we tell. For instance, while speaking with a childhood friend recently, I learned an important lesson about time and how precious it is.
That friend was Abe, one of the brightest, most introspective men I know. However, this wasn’t always the case. He, as was the whole gang, was a victim of poor teenage driving habits, often confusing the left pedal with the right. We were all novices behind the wheel with a long list of escapades and close calls where the vertical foot pedal (the gas) was employed rather than the horizontal one (the brake). One day on his way to school, all of those close calls and confusion cost Abe significantly, as the front of his parents station wagon made the acquaintance of an innocent automobile. Word of the accident spread quickly, and later in the day, as the broken hulk of the automobile sat lifelessly in the driveway of 15 Buena Vista Drive, my friends and I stood in the street laughing, making broad gestures and wondering aloud what would become of poor, hapless Abe.
His father was the serious sort and not to be trifled with. Although he was a great and generous man, he played the part of stern father perfectly. He rarely smiled in our presence and he had a glare, through deep bushy eyebrows, that could melt most teenagers right out of their Chuck Taylors. Plainly put, if all of humanity is blessed with one superpower each, this dad’s extraordinary ability was his teenage-dissolving gaze. Couple that vision with the vivid imagination of three hyperbolic teenagers gawking at the dented Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon and one could only imagine the scenes we pantomimed as we brashly discussed the looming punishment that Abe would be facing. Little did we know that behind the bay window of the house that faced the street and the twisted steel hulk of a station, stood father and son.
What was surprising was not what the father said about the three stooges at the end of the driveway. Instead, as I listened to Abe tell the story years later, I was most surprised by his father’s overriding premise that the toll the accident would ultimately take would not be relegated to a bent bumper and caved in fender, but rather to time lost.
After all was said and done, what the father was most displeased with, besides the dented car and the antics of three knotheads, was the many hours lost due to meetings and phone calls with the insurance company and car mechanics. In his wisdom, he knew time lost would never be found again, a lesson that was not lost on Abe through the years. He knows that the problem with time is that it is often difficult to quantify, like a mist that slips past us unnoticed. Because of this experience, he is more cognizant of the clock and how precious each second can be.
You’re probably asking yourself, what does this have to do with modular elevators? One of the benefits of modular elevators is the time savings.
A construction expert put it this way: traditional elevators have a minimum six month installation time, regardless of the upfront estimate. Modular elevators, on the other hand, can be installed in as little as one week. He went on to say that, using rough math, if installing an elevator in a hotel of 100 rooms at approximately $100 per room per night takes six months to install, this results in approximately 180 fewer days of occupancy. This comes to 1.8 million reasons to contact Phoenix Modular Elevator and find out more about the fastest installing, quality commercial elevator in the world. As Benjamin Franklin observed, time is fleeting, but it is also quantifiable. Just ask Abe and his dad.
In a CNN online article about boutique hotels, the focus was on impressive finishes and features of various boutique hotels around the world. The story highlighted several pieces that made up the architectural design and set the hotels apart, enhanced the experience and told visitors exactly what the hotel is all about.
For instance, in the article it shows the lobby of the Hotel Vagabond in Singapore. It is outfitted with several imposing pieces, including a golden elephant “hoisting” up the main elevator. The work was designed by artist Franck Le Ray and his artistic ability certainly added a unique touch to the lobby. It gives the visitor’s eye plenty of opportunities to remain busy while waiting patiently for the elevator. Beyond that, it lets you know precisely where you are, in a unique place that is fun and exciting. Cladding the hoistway with the impressive sculpture was certainly a departure from the ordinary, but the lesson learned should go deeper.
The lesson is not about putting a massive pachyderm in your lobby at all, but instead forces the question “What message do the elevator fixtures, hall calls, car interior and hoistway finishes say about the building you are in?” Most likely, if you are reading this blog post, you are not in a Singapore hotel, but that should not prohibit you from thinking about the message your elevators give to visitors. It is important because the one place that you know for sure people will look in your building, beyond almost anywhere else, is the elevator and its fixtures.
Think about it. You go through the lobby with your eyes darting all over the place. You are taking in the visual cues from the front desk to the lobby furniture, but then all that visual stimulus stops when you press the elevator button. You look down at the button, give it a gentle poke and your eyes move immediately to the floor indicator. Unless interrupted, it generally stays there until the elevator arrives. You then walk into the elevator car, taking in the look and feel, and again your eyes shift to the floor indicator light. That’s a lot of time and opportunity to tell people about your organization by the look of the car and the fixtures. Sometimes the elevator conveys a professional feel with a clean, simple, efficient buttons and displays. Other times, something more quirky or modern is warranted.
The same is true with the hoistway. If the elevator is on the outside of the building, it should enhance or at least work with the architectural vision of the building. If the elevator is a free standing element of the lobby, it has to be carefully integrated with the interior design.
Fortunately, if you are thinking about a new elevator, Phoenix Modular Elevator has a solution that is right for you. We have flexibility to make architectural design easy with a hoistway that can be clad in any material you need, even a golden elephant. Also, the interior of the elevator car can be custom made, from standard laminates, stainless steel to unique coverings such as barnwood or any combination of the three. The fixtures can also be any style or type available, from a classic look to modern. This will help your architect design the impact you are looking for.
From simple, off-the-shelf elevators to one of a kind masterpieces, we can accomplish anything you desire. Your building lobby may not need a golden elephant, but never let limited options prevent you from that if it is your dream.