Raise your hand if you love riding in elevators.
That’s what we thought. But if you devote any time at all to thinking about elevators, you’re probably aware that these mechanical wonders come in all shapes, sizes and speeds. In other words, the painfully sluggish, three-story lift at your local library isn’t the be-all-end-all of elevator technology. And it’s certainly not the only option for folks in the mood for a more thrilling elevator ride.
By contrast, these five elevators are thrilling, at least insofar as local building codes and safety constraints allow. Heck, they’ve been known to turn even the most jaded office drones into vertical speed demons.
Which ones are you most looking forward to riding?
- Guangzhou CTF Finance Center Elevator
According to Gizmodo, the under-construction Guangzhou CTF Finance Center will house the world’s fastest (ever) elevator when completed in 2017. The report indicates that the Hitachi-built machine will take just 43 seconds to travel nearly 1,500 vertical feet, a never-before-achieved speed that’s the very definition of breathtaking. Among other fun facts, this new elevator will need to have brakes capable of withstanding temperatures in excess of 550 degrees Fahrenheit — hotter than your Thanksgiving oven.
- Burj Khalifa Elevators
Hold onto your hats! If you like a thrilling elevator ride, head out to Dubai and check out the stunning Burj Khalifa’s express elevators. Though they travel at “only” 26 miles per hour (a sedate pace compared to Guangzhou’s beast of a vertical transport), the Burj Khalifa’s extend higher above ground level than any other elevator in the world. They’ll be surpassed soon enough, but for now, they offer a view that quite literally can’t be beat.
- Mitsubishi “Bullet Elevator”
China is ground zero for thrilling elevators these days. According to Yahoo News, Mitsubishi just unveiled a superfast “bullet elevator” that’s slated for installation in China’s Shanghai Tower. With top speeds of more than 40 miles per hour, the vehicle doesn’t literally move as fast as a speeding bullet — but it does pack quite a punch.
What’s behind the bullet elevator’s sheer power? For starters, a sleek, aerodynamic shell that reduces wind resistance and friction. The bullet elevator also boasts regenerative motors of the sort found on hybrid cars. And super-strong cables reduce elevator weight, allowing for a more efficient ride. Not bad for a bullet.
- New York’s Freedom Tower
Technically we’re calling it One World Trade Center now, but “superfast Freedom Tower elevator” just has a better ring to it.
In any case, the tower’s observation deck elevators boast 2.3-ton motors that can reach sustained speeds of up to 23 miles per hour and offer one of the longest continuous elevator rides (nearly 1,500 vertical feet) in the world. Buckle up!
As buildings get taller and time gets shorter, elevators will continue to go faster. One day in the not-so-distant future, our descendants might look back on these five elevators on this list and laugh at the idea that we once found them exciting. By then, they could well be riding gravity-defying elevator cars into low earth orbit or boarding cableless elevators for trips across entire neighborhoods. Talk about a thrill ride!