Elevators - the ups and downs of Malibu East

Posted on Sun, 03/01/2015 - 12:00pm

By Carl Chadek

New elevator Our beautiful building is not an ordinary residence. It’s a resort. We are 45 stories with swimming pools, tennis court, valet parking, 24-hour door staff, 24-hour maintenance and a retail/office mall. There are no other buildings north of us that are larger until you get to Milwaukee. As homeowners here at Malibu East, there’s nothing that we must do except come and go as we please. Our needs are well-attended by our excellent staff and management. Well, OK, we must follow the rules and regulations. That is not a big burden. They are for the benefit of all.

Anyway, let’s back up to the “come and go as we please” part. Coming and going can be challenging when our aging elevators decide to stop working properly. Our elevators have dated and worn control mechanisms, cab controls, doors and interiors. Current life safety mandates from the City must be in place for many aspects of our building, and elevator modernization is a big part of bringing us into compliance. Those life safety items that relate to elevators are, in my opinion, the best innovations offered to make us as safe as possible.

Here’s a preview of what you can expect from the upcoming elevator modernization project.

Elevator operation: In an emergency, the elevator recall mechanism will have all the elevators move to the Lobby level with no possibility of inadvertently stopping on any floor where there might be a problem. The current buttons in our elevators can be activated by simply brushing past them. The touch-screen buttons in our modernized elevators will have to be touched by a real finger. That sounds funny, but a button must be touched individually for it to light. This new system eliminates the possibility of accidentally activating a “handful” or a prankster running a finger down an entire column. (I’ve been tempted but have never done it.) Of course, our new elevators will be ADA compliant – requirements for button height, from the floor, at each elevator lobby on every floor; requirements for control height, from the floor, in every cab; and requirements for keypad operation (mostly for sight-impaired users) in every cab. The new system also includes Internet connectivity so that we have the possibility of displaying bus/train schedules, weather reports, Malibu East meetings/events and selected community information in real time. There will be security cameras in each elevator. Take a look at www.madfixtures.com and click on “Touch To Go Touchscreen” for more information. It’s amazing.

Passenger cab interiors: The Board of Directors approved the passenger cab interior design, created by Interface Planning & Design, that was brought forth by the Aesthetics Committee. The ceiling will be back-painted champagne-colored glass; there will be indirect lighting down the walls, along with LED downlights in the ceiling; and the walls will be panels of a woven hybrid resin/metal material in a bronze tone. The flooring options are still being discussed because of the weight of the cabs. Handrails are a code requirement. The picture accompanying this article shows how the cabs will appear. The goal was to put in place a lasting design that stays within the original aesthetic of our iconic building while bringing it into the present. The planned renovation of our Grand Lobby was taken into most serious consideration while making these choices. Our Grand Lobby is a fabulous asset, and its renovation must reflect its original design, all of which spills forth from the elevator modernization.

Freight elevator: The freight elevator’s interior walls will be industrial-strength, textured stainless steel. The floor will be industrial rubber flooring in deep red – like our Malibu East logo. The current carpeted walls take up several inches of space and are almost impossible to keep clean. The current drop ceiling will give way to a plain, white enameled ceiling, giving us almost a foot of added height. There will be cove LED lighting on each side near the ceiling. The result is a much more durable freight elevator with better lighting and more space. Also, we will have a new system of indicators on each floor for the freight elevator. A position indicator, similar to the current lobby and lower level indicators, will be on each floor so we know the location of the freight elevator cab at any given time. There will also be a lighted indicator, viewed from anywhere in the hallway of each floor, to let us know if the freight elevator is not available. No more dragging your laundry all the way down the hall only to find that the freight elevator is locked off. No more filling your shopping cart and having to come back to the passenger elevators. No more doggie “time-to-go” emergencies where an extra 60 feet makes a difference. How nice is that?

Mechanicals: When the Otis Elevator Co. installed the elevators here in 1970-71, they used only the best and most state-of-the-art elements available. That’s why they’ve lasted this long. The goal in the modernization is to take the same approach. The main exception to replacing everything is that the lift motors will remain. The motors are of superior quality and will be rebuilt, at substantial savings, to like-new condition.

Time frame: Mechanical plans, electrical plans, architectural plans and design plans must be submitted for code approval. Proper permits must be secured. Then we can start actual construction. The first elevator taken from service will be the freight. The elevators will be taken out of service one at a time, and each will be out of service for about four months. It’s going to be a bit of a hardship. We all need to be patient – I guess we don’t have a choice. We can all certainly look forward to reliable, safe and fast elevator service. During the modernization, it’s more important than ever that large deliveries and moves be scheduled with management. We can still accommodate large deliveries and moves as long as they are scheduled in advance. Also, please be aware that extra-large items might not fit in the passenger elevators while the freight is out of service. Measure, measure, measure.

Other stuff: This project will be paid for out of our reserve fund, with no special assessment. I might also mention that our assessments were not increased this year. We are in good shape for this project. Say “thank you” to your Board, along with previous Boards and the owners who have funded our reserves over the years. The new elevators will “talk” to each other after the project is complete, so that wait times will be significantly shorter. The touch-screen controls include a special number keypad for people who are sight-impaired or use wheelchairs, which meets (rightfully so) ADA requirements. Our elevator music will stay – I absolutely insisted!

This is an exciting and huge undertaking for any condominium. The objectives are safety, service and aesthetics at the highest possible level. If you would like more information, please submit your questions to me through the Management Office.

Carl Chadek is chair of the Architecture & Aesthetics Committee.