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Cazenovia College Elevator

How is it possible to have an elevator stop on 8 different floors inside a 3 story building?

July 28, 2022 was the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To mark this occasion, we would like to take a look at a project from 2008 for Cazenovia College, that involved the installation of two elevators. What makes this unusual is one elevator has 8 stops in a 3 story building.

Installation of elevators within an existing building would seem to be a fairly common sort of project, but in this case the installation had some unique and interesting qualities that made this project a bit unusual. Cazenovia College has a series of 4 buildings connected to one another: Hubbard Hall, Coleman Hall, Eddy Hall and Williams Hall.

All four of these buildings were built at different times. Williams, one of the oldest buildings on campus (circa 1850), and Hubbard are located at each end of the building complex, with Coleman and Eddy having been built years later. As a result, there were a variety of floor levels and connecting stairs to accommodate this variety. However, this solution resulted in a “not very accessible” series of spaces.

Teitsch-Kent-Fay Architects, P.C. worked closely with the College’s Facility Department to carefully map out all the various levels, and their relationships to one another, to determine how the floor did (or did not) line up with one another.. The result of this analysis was that by locating one elevator between Hubbard and Coleman, and the other between Eddy and Williams, and installing elevators with doors in the front and rear of the cab, most of the primary levels could be connected. Although this may sound like the function of a typical elevator, what made front and rear doors such a necessity was that the floors do not align with each other resulting in an eight stop elevator within a three story building.

This made the project very difficult and resulted in very careful documentation of the existing conditions, and close coordination in order to improve the accessibility of these structures. The project was completed in 2009 and involved extremely tedious hand excavation by the contractor for the elevator pits in the existing buildings.

For the most part, these new installations are relatively inconspicuous within the old buildings, and they do not detract from any of the formal elements of the older buildings designs. Observant visitors may be a bit confused as to how there could be eight floors in a three story building, but the reality is that the non aligning floor levels are made accessible to everyone through this rather unusual installation.

This project, while not particularly “loud” or “showy” was very rewarding as it gave us a challenging problem to solve, and resulted in much more welcoming spaces for the students and faculty of Cazenovia College.

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