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HOK’s Roger Soto Shares How Elevator Technology Is Influencing Skyscraper Design

PIF Tower
Photo: Ashraf Jamali for Omrania

CityLab interviews the architect of the 80-story PIF Tower (formerly CMA Tower) about the opportunities presented with new elevator innovations.

By the end of the century, more than 70 percent of the world is expected to reside in urban areas, requiring cities to grow ever higher to accommodate future populations.

Elevator manufacturer Thyssenkrupp has been giving this topic a lot of thought. Recently the company unveiled MULTI, a cable-less elevator that will travel both vertically and horizontally through a single building or multiple connected buildings. The MULTI comes on the heels of Thyssenkrupp’s TWIN, another elevator innovation that allows two cars to travel in a single shaft.

As Roger Soto, design principal for HOK, recently told CityLab, these elevator advancements have designers “thinking more about creating social connections in a vertical setting.” It also has them thinking of how elevator technology may soon take tall buildings to even greater heights.

Excerpted from CityLab:

“We’ve been waiting for these developments for a while,” says Soto, who led the design of PIF Tower in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. When the 1,260-foot tower opens in 2018, it will utilize the company’s TWIN elevator system, in which two elevator cabs travel independently—one above the other—in the same shaft.

The elevator is “pretty critical” to skyscraper design, Soto explains, as it makes up the building’s core. But the current cable system takes up more space the higher you go. For the twer, the TWIN allowed HOK to build taller on a smaller floorplate: “The TWIN system allowed us to actually pack the elevators into the core in a way that made the tower more efficient and economical,” Soto explains.

“I think the elevator can free us from certain constraints we have right now, and allow us to innovate in the way we conceive of towers,” say Soto.

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