Engineering A Great Glass Elevator

Detail and design complexity was involved in the launch of a high-end retail store on New Bond Street, London – and we’re not talking fashion.

When LVMH-owned, Loewe, planned the new flagship store, stunning architectural vision and engineering expertise was the order of the day - particularly with regard to the design and installation of a spectacular lift.

One of the main features of the store’s expansive space, designed by creative director Jonathan Anderson, is a spiral staircase and inserted lift – more specifically 10 tonnes of Campaspero stone suspended around a cylindrical panoramic lift with brass detailing right in the middle of the store.

Achieving this spectacular finish called for leading independent lift engineering consultants, LECS (UK). Mitchell Price instructed LECS (UK) on behalf of Loewe. The specification and tendering, for the bespoke cylindrical glass lift, was led by Lee Dean, director at LECS (UK).

With LECS (UK) acting as the principle designer on the lift project, the task was to design and specify a circular glazed lift inside a circular glazed lift shaft, all within the confines of an area equal to the internal circumference of the pre-tensioned, floating stone staircase.

Lee Dean, LECS (UK) said: “For the cleanest look possible we specified frameless glazed doors, operating from under the lift car so that the bulk of mechanics are out of sight. This posed a unique technical challenge as the doors are curved, as opposed to conventional horizontal sliding doors. A direct acting hydraulic lift was chosen, with the hydraulic RAM submerged below the pit inside a 20m deep borehole. A single hydraulic piston, central to the cylindrical lift, drives the car up and down.”

image10.jpg#asset:220

Following the tendering process, LECS (UK) appointed Specialist Lift Services (SLS) to create the bespoke lift. LECS (UK) also oversaw the manufacture of the lift car that was built in one piece at the Milan factory, before shipping it to the UK,

Considering London’s underground network, a series of ground surveys were carried out before digging the 20m deep borehole. The complexities of the design specification, along with the volume of other engineering works taking place nearby, required careful management throughout the process. Coordinating the works was also a challenge due to the close proximity between the staircase and the final location of the large curved glazed panels around the lift shaft structure

New Bond Street had to be temporarily closed to allow for the lift car to be unloaded and manoeuvred into the store and into position inside the steel, glazed structure. Timeframes were tight, with contractors working around the clock to complete the commission and installation of the lift in time for the store’s opening date.

The impressive Loewe store is now open, with the lift and staircase already grabbing attention and one journalist from the FT dubbing it as reminiscent of “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.”

image9.jpg#asset:221