Bob Ricca

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Designing the 1000 floor elevator

It was a cold, and I mean COLD, Thursday afternoon when I was tasked with the challenge:

"How would you design an interface for a 1000 floor elevator?".

I was told that a quick google search would present me with some answers and after digging through search results I've come to one conclusion... it is definitely easy to over-engineer the solution.

Assumptions Made In This Scenario

  • This building consists of businesses and residents.
  • Each residence or business is provided with an appropriate amount of keycards.
  • There is a security desk in the lobby.
  • Businesses/Residences are required to notify the front desk when guests are expected.
  • The security desk requires business guests to sign in (at which time they will receive a temporary keycard).
  • If a keycard holder is present, guests are not required to sign in.
  • The building would need to be at least a dozen or more blocks wide to have a solid foundation.
  • Each floor would house multiple residences and therefore the elevator door would open to a lobby/hallway, not directly into the residence.

Objectives & Goals

  • As a keycard holder, I am able to get to my floor.
  • As a keycard holder, I am only able to get to the floor my keycard allows.
  • As an elevator rider, I am able to easily identify which floor each elevator is currently on.
  • As an elevator rider, I can easily get to the lobby to go buy some groceries.
  • As a thief, I can not use the elevator because I do not have a key card.
  • As a thief, I can not use the elevator keycard I found in the parking lot because I do not know which floor it belongs to.

A Lesson In Over-Engineering

Keep It Simple

When digging into this problem I noticed most people online tended to have this overly complicated solution.

Tarun Chakravorty wrote a novel on about it.

Then there is Jherin Miller, who put his solution on Behance.

Sure, it's graphically pretty but there are a lot of design decisions that just don't make sense.

I've never seen an elevator where you enter your floor number from the hallway?

And look at accessing private floors...


Design For Your Audience

Then I found William Clark who also put up his solution on Behance.

His design offers an address book directory where you can search or say anyone's name to find and travel to the floor of their residence.

It's a novel concept but you have to wonder: does this fit the type of clientele living in the world's tallest building.

As one of the world's elite, do I want my name and address broadcasted out to thousands of other residents? Maybe I'd want to maintain some ambiguity.

Let's look at this scenario:

Arguably this is completely exaggerated.

I'm sure residences could opt out of being listed in my imaginary building... It's fun to pretend.

My Solution

Having spent many a night in Atlantic City hotels, the solution seemed pretty straight forward to me. After all, a building that would have 1,000 floors probably has a lot of elevator shafts and multiple entrances.

Why would a building that has 1,000 floors be any different than a building that has 150 floors.

Inside The Elevator

Let's analyze the design...

Providing Users With Feedback

When successfully entering the right keycard / floor number combo the user will see this:

When entering the wrong keycard / floor number combo the user will see this:

After entering the wrong keycard / floor number combo 5 times the card will become invalid.

Have a drunk night out with your buddies only to arrive home and forget what floor you live on?

There is a good chance you'll need to crawl to the security desk with proper identification to reset your keycard.

Waiting For The Elevator

Waiting for the elevator would also have the standard interface with a slight improvement.

Let's say I'm on the 501th floor.

What information would I want to know?

The interface would tell me:

  • Where the elevator is
  • Which direction it's headed
  • How minutes I will have to wait

Separating Residences and Business Offices

Surely, once you reach the residential section it's clear you belong in the building and you've had the credentials to get where you are.

Furthermore, residence owners can not access various floors occupied by companies and vice versa.

What if I'm cooking on floor 101 and I need to borrow a cup of sugar from my good neighbor Mila Kunis?

Don't worry, accessing other residential levels only requires a keycard when coming from the lobby.

I hope you found this as entertaining as I did :)

Want to see other projects I've worked on?