Creative Solutions

The East Lansing Center City project’s MRL elevators presented an engineering challenge.

Smartrise and Alliance Elevator Solutions get East Lansing Center City off the ground.

While working on the mixed-use East Lansing Center City project in Michigan, Alliance Elevator Solutions found itself in a unique situation. “We needed to integrate the controller system into the elevator hoistway. There would be no machine room or control room provided for this project,” Alliance Representative Andrew Evensen said. Working with Smartrise Engineering and its new C4 controller, both companies realized they had to meet somewhere to figure out how they could “take the controller and break it in half.”

The East Lansing Center City project consists of two separate 10- and 12-story buildings. The buildings are designed to include retail space on the bottom floor, multistory parking and more than 350 residential rental units, with 92 of those units designed for senior living. More than US$130 million is invested in the property, and the value per square foot is exceptionally high, so space for utilities is at a premium.

With no place for a machine room, the options at Center City were limited. Smartrise Regional Territory Manager Steven

Correa commented:

“There are not many true machine-room-less (MRL) solutions for the nonproprietary/open-market elevator companies. Typically, when it comes to MRLs, building owners, consultants and/or architects only have the OEM to deal with.”

Smartrise Director Gilbert Zogbi and Smartrise Senior Engineer Brent Meline started to figure out ways to work around the constraints and make the C4 controller components fit in the area available. Evensen recalls a brainstorming session:

“Gilbert [Zogbi] and Brent [Meline] went and found a\ whiteboard and a couple of dry-erase markers, and they just broke out all the pieces in the C4 controller, [and] reworked up a preliminary, overarching rewiring and reorganization of the controller off the top of their heads. They redesigned the C4 controller on the fly in order for us to be able to migrate all the large components into the overhead of the hoistway and leave only the small components in the wall of the hoistway.”

Even after that bit of engineering magic, there was still some tweaking to be done to get the controller to fit. The contactors for the main line, in the hall box, were larger than anticipated, and the box was not deep enough for them, Evensen noted, adding:

“Smartrise was really helpful. We sent the boards back, and they swapped out the components for smaller versions, rewired them and shipped everything directly to the jobsite. It arrived with a modified box, and those guys were able to keep moving with no delay in the actual work schedule.”

With Center City nearing completion, Alliance Elevator Solutions and Smartrise are looking forward to their next project. “I’m going to be starting a conversation about creating the same style product but for hydraulic cars,” Evensen commented. “We don’t have the luxury of large amounts of space in the overhead that we can use, so we’re going to build off our initial ideas and create phase two of this project.”

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Elevator World | September 2019 Cover