The Bank of America Tower not only houses the company’s headquarters but also its flagship branch. The expansive super-bank showcases prototype computer tellers, concept technology, and impressive interior design, making it a powerful selling tool. Employees tour potential corporate clients and partners through the branch, which is attached to the office lobby by a 30.5″ tall set of stairs. For the convenience of these VIPs the branch office is accessible by means of a custom vertical platform wheelchair lift designed and built by Handi-Lift.
The challenge was to provide a reliable, code compliant, quiet and easy-to-use lift that looked like it belonged in this space — in other words, to provide Accessibility with Dignity.
The architects wanted as much bare-edged glass as possible to minimize the impact of the lift on the space. Code requires a solid runway, flush and smooth on the inside, to 42” above the upper landing. Therefore the lower glass door and the glass side of the enclosure separating the lift from the stair all rise to the height of the 42” upper landing gate.
Our main design objectives were to bury the mechanism in the adjacent wall and maintain as much glass as possible in the runway. In order to increase the amount of glass in the enclosure with minimal hardware we incorporated patch hardware at the top and angled the frame of the enclosure to follow the slope of the stairs, giving the impression of a stringer. We aligned the height of this stringer element with the top of the shoes of both glass entrances to unify the design.
To achieve proper running clearance, provide for interlocks on entrances, and coordinate with all trades from electricians to carpenters to stone masons we provided detailed coordinated shop drawings showing the dimensions of the other trades work impacting our lift installation.
Time constraints were another challenge. Since the enclosure work couldn’t be released into production until the floor and wall tradesmen were finished (or at least until construction was far enough along to field verify elevations) we had very little installation time, finishing the installation a few days before the grand opening.
The end result was a wheelchair lift that all everyone involved can be proud of. Bank of America’s critical clients and partners who uses the lift can feel that the company cared about providing Accessibility with Dignity, and didn’t compromise their aesthetic to do so.
The Garaventa Genesis vertical platform with roller chain hydro drive (and standby battery back up power) was used as the workhorse behind the finished car and enclosure. The capacity of this lift is 750 lbs. but because we were adding weight to the car we had to reduce the live load to 500 lbs. to make sure we did not exceed the safety factor in the design of the sling and drive system.
We used Dorma BTS-75 ADA compliant floor closers with offset pivots so the entrances close flush to the inside of the finished hoistway required by code.
The glass in the entrances and in the walls of the runway enclosure were set to the inside of the frames to achieve code-mandated running clearance. The patch hardware and the door shoes were therefore custom made since off-the-shelf patch hardware and door shoes would not work.
To make trade coordination easier and to provide support for the narrow glass returns on the hinge side of each entrance we made a sub frame around the Garaventa machine tower to which we could attach a shoe and the custom patch hardware top and bottom. This also give the appearance of the glass protruding out of the wall with minimal support.
We used Folger Adams 401R deadbolt style interlocks wired to monitor the door is closed and bolt is engaged before the lift can leave the landing. This interlock is very robust and we have found works well for heavy glass entrances. We located it low to align with the shoes of the entrances. Also this system eliminates the need for bulky cams or additional communication hardware required by electric strikes. It does draw more amperage than other types of interlocks so modifications to the standard low voltage output of the controller is required.
The controls were not put in the enclosure framing because it was glass including the small returns at each latch so we used elevator style hall stations by EPCO with raised profile buttons that can be actuated with a closed fist and held to operate lift with less than 5 lbs. of pressure which is required by the ANSI A117.1.
We also arranged for the disconnect and junction boxes for all wiring to be recessed behind a flush access panel so as not to have a large fused disconnect on the wall detract from the design of the lift.
On the car we made a stainless pan with custom made glass shoes to receive the custom flooring. The COP (car operating panel) is a 2x5x42 tube with up/down and Stop/Alarm buttons mounted on a flush plate removable for service. The sides are notched to insert the two pieces of glass on that side which support the grabrail so they were stiff enough to allow for the user to pull on the grab rail.
The mast of the machine is flush with the finished wall and finished with matching stainless panels. The architect also required we use low iron glass and that we finish the stainless with #6 not #4 so additional hand work was necessary by Paxton Metalcraft.
The biggest challenge we had was finalizing the design including the slope of the stainless stringer element before we could prove any dimensions in the field. After the concrete was poured for the pit we had to modify our design and then we had to meet with all the floor and wall finish trades to determine how their finishes were going to relate to the rough concrete. After five revisions to our coordinated shop drawing we could finally proceed to the fabrication and installation phase of the project. We designed the lift so that it could be bolted together quickly toward the end of the project when the finishes were being installed.
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