At Kone’s test facility in Lohja, Finland, built 1,000 feet down a limestone mine, the company is tackling a problem that’s more familiar to frequent flyers than elevator riders. Engineers are determining the optimal speed for fans that control air pressure inside cars, which can descend in a mega-high-rise building faster than a commercial airplane coming in for a landing, De Jong says. Jets may have 30 minutes to reduce cabin pressure as they approach the airport; elevators in the tallest buildings may have just 30 seconds to depressurize.
For Dubai’s 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa tower, the world’s tallest building at the moment, Otis designed a system using double-deck cars, computerized dispatch, and its compact Gen2 lifts, which replace steel cables with polyurethane-coated belts. It uses smaller, gearless drives instead of bulky motors, eliminating the need for a large engine room.