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Elevators Have New System, Slow Doors

By Nathan Collins


The second of two student center elevator upgrades, which will modernize the 1960s technology currently in use, will be completed in the next week or two, said Campus Activities Complex Director Phillip J. Walsh.

“I think the elevators have been a concern here in the Student Center for some time,” Walsh said.

The new elevator has experienced a few problems. Walsh said there were a few breakdowns last week “which were quickly responded to.”

Additionally, some students have noticed that the new elevator doors open slowly and that this has contributed to slightly slower service, but Walsh said that this could likely be fixed.

“There’s always some tweaking to be done,” Walsh said. He noted that having the crew that worked on the first elevator still around working on the second could expedite such work.

Bernard J. Richard, Department of Facilities manager for electrical, mechanical and plumbing operations, said that minor problems, such as those with the doors, should be relatively easy to fix. “Whether or not we can speed up the elevators, I’m not sure,” he said in regard to the elevator motors.

The west elevator renovation was completed several weeks ago. Walsh said that the second effort would likely take about three weeks, instead of the anticipated four weeks, putting the completion date in early March.

Walsh said the two elevators were not renovated at the same time so workers could learn from work on the first elevator. The second renovation, he said, would take less time because workers were already experienced with an identical system.

Richard said the work required three weeks because “we’re doing an extensive overhaul.” A typical MIT elevator takes six weeks to renovate, he said. “We have to replace a tremendous amount of components.”

A major reason for the renovations was the outdated electronics. The elevator cars were renovated in the 1980s, but the electronics remained the same as when they were first installed in 1965, he said.

Those electronics used many mechanical relays which had a propensity to get stuck, Richard said.

“When you have a problem, you have hundreds and hundreds of relays,” and tracking down and fixing the stuck relay can be difficult, Richard said.

A key job was to replace the electronics with modern solid-state systems. “It becomes much more dependable,” Richard said.

The elevator cars, controls, and much of the other hardware will be replaced, and the elevators motors will be overhauled, Richard said.

In addition to the elevators, many fifth floor offices were recently renovated. Starting last December, the offices of Student Life Programs and Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups were extensively remodeled to change the arrangement and sizes of individual offices.