Why would the buildings owner upgrade the 83 elevator shafts and replace 97 cabs over the next five years – it provides evidence of excellent management. These elevators have not had improvements nor replacements in machine rooms, cables, cabs and controls since 1974 when the 110 story building was completed. The Blackstone Group purchased the building in 2015 for $1.3B and knew then, that the planned elevator fix was coming up – 50 years when the renovation is finished. In addition, they will benefit from latest technology using energy efficient methods that will provide faster trip time by 30% and reduce energy use by 35%. Not bad, when you consider the available energy savings and the fact that the renovation is planned to add more than 300,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space at the base of the building. I can only imagine the extent of planning that took place to make sure that revenue and profit objectives are hit as the required renovations take place, and the benefits that will result in 12M+ tenants getting upstairs 30% faster.

To that extent I would like to ask the following question: Why are the elevators that reach the Skydeck (1.7 MM visitors per year) not a part of this renovation project? There must be a simple answer, but it seems strange that elevators facing the same 50 year age barrier and all its risk and increased cost factors would not be addressed by the efficiency of getting the job done at the same time due to the size of the task:

1200 miles The elevators make more than 42M trips per day. Add them all up and they cover about the same distance as a flight from Chicago to Miami.

64 miles Placed end-to-end, the new cables used in the project would stretch from Chicago to Sheboygan.

5.8MM people Each year, Willis Tower’s elevators carry about the same number of people as the combined population of Los Angeles and Houston.

1451 Ft. Sears Tower has gone from being the tallest building in 1974 to the second-tallest in the U.S. and the 15th – tallest in the world.

Sources: Equity Office, Otis and Chicago Tribune.