Come 2014, the world's tallest building — the Ghost Protocol-famous Burj Khalifa — will no longer be able to also claim that it has the world's fastest elevators. That honor will go to the Shanghai Tower in China, which will stand 2,073 feet with 128 floors, and have bullet-shaped elevators built by Mitsubishi that zip around as fast as cars.
Designed by the San Francisco-based architects at Gensler, the completed Shanghai Tower will stand as the tallest in a trio of buildings that dominate the city's Pudong district. It joins two other pretty-sweet-looking skyscrapers: the 1,200-foot Jin Mao Tower and the 1,600-foot Shanghai World Financial Center.
At 2,073 feet tall, Shanghai Tower will be China's tallest building — and the country's tallest anything, in fact, as it'll top the 1,970-foot Canton Tower, a broadcast spire in Guangzhou. In 2014, barring any surprises, Shanghai Tower will be second only to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, but China's supertall skyscraper will boast faster elevators.
First, because they look really cool (at least in mock-up), here's one of the aerodynamic elevator cars:
Mitsubishi is cramming in a lot of tech to make the ride as comfortable and safe as it is fast. That's quite the challenge, considering the elevators will be flying through the Shanghai Tower's shoots at 1,080 meters-per-minute, or just over 40 mph. The Khalifa's elevators, by comparison, move at 700 meters a minute, or about 26 mph.
That impressive boost is thanks to that aforementioned fancy tech: a new type of bundled cord made up of plastic-covered steel strands that "offers higher intensity [thresholds] than conventional rope for safe operation despite the greater weight of longer ropes;" ceramic brakes that'll be able to withstand the high amount of heat at play; a "hydraulic oil buffer (shock absorber) at the bottom of the elevator shaft" for a quick, comfortable stop; and some extra fixings to help address uncomfortable vibration, sound insulation and even an air pressure control system for "reduced ear discomfort."
Of course, with skyscrapers getting so tall we need a whole new adjective like "supertall" to describe them, the competition around building a faster elevator is a hotly contested space. Hitachi, for instance, is building a research center dedicated to the betterment of the elevator, and the company's fastest concept last year is just barely slower than what Mitsubishi is showing off.