worlds greatest elevator rides (videos)

Vote for the world’s greatest elevator ride. The contenders include: John Portman’s spectacular scenic hotel rides; a James Bond style elevator at the Mercedes Museum; a Chinese cliff face elevator; the construction workers’ elevator on the Burj Dubai, which is twice as high as the Empire State building; the elevator which climbs through the center of the giant Berlin Sea life aquarium and an enormous, futuristic elevator for boats in Scotland. My personal favorite is the elevator at the Mole in Turin which has a unique history.


Posted by David Galbraith

 
IM Pei’s Pyramid entrance to the Louvre, in Paris, is the inspiration behind Apple’s flagship store in New York, it features a very interesting hydraulic elevator that is an open top cylinder which slides within a spiral stair exit. While not particularly exhilarating the effect is very sick.
The Top of the Rock offers a much better view of New York that the Empire State building, since you get to see the Empire State building, and with half the wait time. One of its showpiece features is a glass topped elevator, so that you can appreciate just how dramatic an elevator shaft running nearly a hundred floors, can be, without having to be Bruce Willis.
Somehow, Richard Rogers managed to persuade one of the most conservative organizations in the world to commission one of the most extravagant pieces of architecture. An insurance underwriters housed in a giant stainless steel clad oil refinery that became a hallmark of London’s financial renaissance during the 80’s. It still looks more modern that the more recent icon, the rather simplistic ‘gherkin’ and the elevator rides, while not the highest or fastest in the world, are a majestic piece of architectural drama.
There is nothing like the thrill of ascending an 800 foot erector set to appreciate what climbing very high up feels like. The 2 stage Eiffel tower elevator is the best theme park ride of all time.
The Mode Antonelliana is an icon of Turin, a former Synagog that survived a plane crash into its top, the building had to be shorn up with giant concrete supports after it was shown to be structurally unsound. As a result, the huge interior space cannot support very much, so pretty much the only thing rising through it are the 4 wires supporting the elevator which pops through a square hole in the floor and ceiling as it passes between basement and viewing balcony.
Until very recently the CN tower was the worlds largest structure, and with an external high speed elevator it is a must in this list.
This may not be a great video, but the St. Louis Arch elevator is worth a mention. It consists of futuristic all white interior pods and a bizarre parabolic path within the arch itself.
The Skylon tower may not be as large as the similar CN tower, but it makes up for it with the stomach churning view of millions of gallons of water disappearing into the abyss below it.
La Defense is the financial center of Paris, a place where modern architecture is allowed to let rip and build high, without disturbing the 19th Century core. Its centerpiece is an arch which is (almost) aligned with the Arc de Triomphe, and through its hollow center runs a high tech elevator engineered by the legendary Peter Rice.
Very few glass elevators on the side of skyscrapers come close to the thrill of this ride up a cliff side in the Chinese province of Hunan. The Tolkienesque nature of the landscape is, in of itself, a marvel.
The Taipei tower is a horrible piece of architecture, a 100 floor high edifice with the same aesthetic proposition as an illuminated waterfall picture in a cheap take out restaurant. The elevator ride is nevertheless truly impressive and staggeringly fast, as this video of the animated progress indicator within the car shows.
Berlin’s Sea Life has to be the world’s most spectacular aquarium, rising as a giant multi-storey glass cylinder within an atrium. Even more sensational is that fact that an elevator runs through the center of the donut section of the tank to create an utterly surreal ride, as this video shows.
Elevator cars tend to all look the same, and when they are pods, they tend to be light garlanded christmas tree kitsch. Not so at the Mercedes museum, which has a truly magnificently designed elevator system.
Given that the Burj Dubai is staggeringly tall, pretty much the height of two Empire State Buildings on top of each other, and given that bird cage construction workers elevators are pretty scary at the best of times, this has to be one of the best rides on the planet.
John Portman is the Elvis of architecture, over the top, but so accomplished a showman that his work is worth seeing regardless. His trademark is a giant atrium with scenic elevators passing through it.
The difference in height between two canals in Scotland was too great for a lock to be practical. Although not the only one of its kind, this elevator which lifts entire canal barges is one of the few where an attempt was taken to make it a piece of architecture rather than purely an engineering exercise.

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