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This is one of the least appreciated transportation dilemmas posed by coronavirus: how will London’s tallest buildings cope with social distancing when thousands of workers want to return to work in 50-plus offices floors of the floor?
As ministers and mayors are anxious about the problems of moving workers safely on London buses and underground, less attention is paid to what, for many, is the last link in the morning journey – the vertical path from the tower foyer to their own office.
Across London, there are elevators too cramped for the time of Covid-19 precautions. In the Houses of Parliament, for example, MPs and peers have seen signs warning “No more than one person” in old and slow elevators. Like many historic buildings in operation in London, the House of Commons elevators are trapped in stairwells and, under normal circumstances, manage to take only about four politicians at a time. Fortunately for MPs and their staff, the Palace of Westminster is only four stories high, so climbing the stairs is perfectly manageable.
But what if you work on the 40th floor of the capital’s iconic skyscraper, One Canada Square, in Canary Wharf? Climbing the stairs would be an exhausting way to start the day.
Fortunately, there are more elevators than most people believe in the 50-story block, which rises 235 meters above sea level. Sixty-four elevators in eight banks of eight, to be exact.
And the management team has developed a military precision plan to bring the 4,500 people who normally work there out of containment to their offices once the great back-to-work era begins.
“We will have four guided access points in One Canada Square which will be fully open without revolving doors,” a spokesperson for the resort told Standard Online.
“Staff will be located to guide people to the designated elevator while following social distance guidelines. PPE personnel will activate elevators from the ground floor with four authorized persons in the elevator at a time, increasing to six as demand increases. “
Each round trip up and down takes an average of 2.5 minutes. With between 256 and 384 people transported at all times, they calculate that even with a safe social distance, the 64 elevators are capable of transporting an astonishing 7,500 people every hour – more than all their tenants and ample for customers and visitors during the working day .
London’s tallest skyscraper, The Shard, which stretches 309 meters above the ground, was also confident it could cope. It has 36 elevators which jump at 6m per second to serve its 72 habitable floors of commercial or residential premises.
A spokesperson for Real Estate Management said, “The Shard building management team continues to develop plans to help occupants return to their offices. These plans will follow government guidelines on travel and social distance when locking is facilitated. The safety and well-being of our tenants, visitors and colleagues is our top priority. ”