Give ’em a lift

Saying goodbye to our 1929 elevator motors.

The year was 1929, and the Great Depression gripped the nation. In Seattle, a new club at the corner of Sixth and Union was soon to open its doors. Elevator Pull Quote
By now, most of us have heard the
story of the WAC’s history many times over. The Club pulled through those difficult early days and has risen to great success.

Around the Club- house, some of the building’s original art deco beauty can still be seen. In the lobby, we admire original molding, elevator doors, and a brass water faucet. Nearby, the Voogd Library envelops us in wood-paneled luxury. And 21 stories up, above almost everything else, elevator motors from 1929 move us from floor to floor.

Almost nine decades later, the time has come to replace those motors.

“We are long overdue for a complete modernization of our high-rise elevators,” Vice President Operations Bill Cohen says. “The new motors and controls will be a big improvement and better serve our members.”

Stairwell prelude

Improvement, however, comes with some growing pains. Elevator renovations take time and—as you can probably guess—require complete stoppage of the car being worked on.

Before the project begins, the main stairwell will receive new lighting, carpet and art to help invite more usage. As for the elevators, the next two to three decades of use will be greatly improved by the coming upgrades, Bill says.

The new motors will run more efficiently, quickly and quietly, and intelligent controls will include dispatch improvements that streamline floor-to-floor travel and eliminate stops when cars are already full. “Overall, the system is going to be a vast improvement on what we have currently,” Bill says, noting that the current control system was last updated in 1987.

ThyssenKrupp will do the work and carry the service contract following the upgrade. Project preparation is projected to begin in August, when the center high-rise elevator will be taken offline periodically to transport materials to the roof.

Alternate routes

Motor installations will begin around mid-September. During the project, members and guests are encouraged to use the low-rise elevators, the main staircase, and the internal stairwells whenever possible. Each high-rise elevator, including the service car, will be down for about 13 weeks. During the renovations, three of the four elevator cars will remain in operation, allowing members to continue to access the entire Club via high-rise elevator.

“We will do everything we can to minimize the impact,” WAC President & CEO Chuck Nelson says. “The most important aspect is member cooperation and participation in taking the stairs and low-rise cars as much as possible.”

As always, you can find Club construction updates online at wac.net/club-projects.

—As published in the May/June 2016 issue of WAC Magazine.

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