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Elevators versus Stairs


Almost every day, I see people taking the elevator to only go up or down one or two floors. In fact, I believe more people take the elevator than the stairs even for only going down a single flight of stairs.

I have been thinking a lot about why. At first, I thought it was most people are lazy. Well people are lazy, but I do not think that is the primary reason.

It seems to me that architects design buildings with elevators centrally located for easy access. However, stairwells are on the opposite end of buildings, meaning against the building’s outer walls. I assume this is because during emergencies, when buildings are evacuated, people should not gather in the central locations to help speed up people exiting buildings.


Additionally, most stairwells are somewhat hidden behind doors, especially one the ground floor. On other floors, stairs are clearly indicated as escape routes. However on the ground floor, finding stairs can be very difficult, if not impossible, without guessing.

The benefits to stairwells are obvious. First, it is healthier for people to be more active. Second, walking only a single flight of stairs is typically faster than using an elevator.

So, the obvious objective is how to get people to take elevators less often and to take stairs more often. I would like to propose this simple solution. Directly in front of every elevator, add a wide and open staircase (heck, I’d even prefer a ladder over an elevator if there was no room for staircases). In my opinion, a wide and open staircase (without doors) is much more welcoming than a hidden stairwell, thus people would be more willing to use it.

by Phil for Humanity
on 04/18/2012

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