Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Wonder of an Escalator

Every single time I go through Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport I can't help but wonder about elevators vs. escalators. You see the Hartsfield-Jackson airport is the world's busiest airport, it moves a huge number of people and per Wikipedia in 2011 that number was 92,365,860 people.

And a critical part of this airport is a bank of escalators that brings and takes passengers to & from the terminals. I always imagine the bottleneck this would have created if the architects and designers would have used elevators.

Well guess what today my wonder was given some evidence... while reading a blog post on Google Earth - The Universal Texture - it referred to the efficiency of escalators and the research done in the retail industry. Here is what the report and the blog had to say about escalators:

No invention has had the importance for and impact on shopping as the escalator. As opposed to the elevator, which is limited in terms of the numbers it can transport between different floors and which through its very mechanism insists on division, the escalator accommodates and combines any flow, efficiently creates fluid transitions between one level and another, and even blurs the distinction between separate levels and individual spaces.


Research on Escalators: Jovanovic Weiss, Srdjan and Leong, Sze Tsung, “Escalator,” in Koolhaas et al., Harvard Design School guide to shopping, Köln, New York, Taschen, 2001.

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