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181 Fremont: Elevators with World-Class Safety for San Francisco


San Francisco: Innovation City

Buildings are central to a city’s identity, shaping the skyline and becoming icons within themselves. Every city has different needs that require cutting-edge, highly customized architectural solutions. TK Elevator works with architects and developers to create high-tech solutions which push the industry forward and benefit all our customers.

San Francisco is known for its Victorian architecture, its streetcars and landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge. Situated on a hilly peninsula among California’s natural wonders, the city is one of the densest in the United States. It is also the capital of the global technology industry. This unique combination makes San Francisco ripe for innovative urban mobility solutions.

181 Fremont Tower from street level in San Francisco.
181 Fremont Tower from street level in San Francisco.

181 Fremont Tower, completed in 2018, is a new icon for the city. The 802-foot, 57-story mixed-use high-rise is one of the West Coast’s tallest. The tower recently received LEED certification and boasts ultra-luxury condos and 33 floors of Facebook office space, in one of the city’s largest office-lease deals ever. It also contains some of the city’s most innovative elevators.

Building occupants encounter 14 engineered gearless traction elevators with AGILE solutions like Destination Dispatch. Passengers input a desired floor and are directed to the proper car, where they can be grouped with other passengers traveling to similar floors. This technology limits trip time and works especially well in the mixed-use environment with different tenant categories. The system can be programed to handle rush-hour traffic or to manage special events.

55th floor elevator lobby equipped with AGILE Destination Dispatch and a Variable Message System.
55th floor elevator lobby equipped with AGILE Destination Dispatch and a Variable Message System.

Pushing Safety Forward

We share a priority for safety with building developers and tenants, and 181 Fremont represents the height of safety technology. Safety is another area where localized concerns and custom solutions are key. In seismically active California, earthquake resiliency is an investment in the community’s future. 181 Fremont goes beyond building code requirements and includes innovative structural and design elements aimed at minimizing earthquake damage. These include exterior “mega-braces” that promote building stability during earthquakes and wind, a shock-absorbing exoskeleton and shafts extending 260 feet into the ground.

Control room with Occupant Evacuation Elevator status panels.
Control room with Occupant Evacuation Elevator status panels.

Emergency evacuation scenarios must be well-executed to ensure tenant safety. Elevators are not typically used in fire scenarios, and consumers expect to use the stairs. This can be extremely stressful and inefficient in high-rise buildings, especially in situations where every minute counts. Those with limited mobility often wait for rescue from fire crews in designated areas, a dangerous and scary position to be in. In 181 Fremont, TK Elevator has completely shifted this paradigm, installing North America’s first Occupant Evacuation Operation (OEO) functionality.

OEO-enabled elevators provide an alternate evacuation method to stairwells by directing occupants to use the elevators in an emergency. OEO came from research by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at the direction of Congress following the 9/11 attacks. It’s designed to reduce the panic and confusion associated with emergencies and to accommodate individuals challenged by age, poor health or limited mobility.

181 Fremont Occupant Evacuation Operation (OEO) Functionality shown in an infographic

When an emergency occurs, building alarm systems activate OEO-enabled elevators and provide audible instructions to floor occupants. The elevators then prioritize evacuation by specific zones. In a total building evacuation, floors farthest from the discharge level have priority. Each elevator car visually and audibly communicates with passengers on how to proceed via a Variable Message System (VMS) while hall station screens communicate elevator service status for those in the hallway. The elevators also have safeguards protecting the elevator lobby or hoistway shaft against water, heat and smoke. In a power outage, these elevators can run on backup power.

Meeting Our Customers’ Unique Needs

These powerful solutions completely modernize expectations around elevators. 181 Fremont’s occupants feel their building meets the expectations of a high-tech city. TK Elevator worked closely with the Jay Paul Company, the building’s developer, to create a highly customized solution that is quickly becoming a mainstay of the city’s South of Market neighborhood.

We bring the knowledge acquired from these flagship installations to all our products. Our momentum elevators can meet the challenges and requirements of your high-rise projects, and AGILE, our digital product offering, can improve any project. TK Elevator is committed to meeting the unique needs and demands of all our customers.