In addition to meeting fire and smoke codes, enclosed elevator lobbies are cost-effective and can be converted into functional spaces. But while enclosed elevator lobbies have numerous benefits, they can also be an eye sore and impediment to designing. And, in many older buildings, a fully enclosed elevator lobby is impossible due to space constraints. In such cases, alternative smoke and fire protection solutions can be used instead. They are affordable and allow you to make the most of a space that would have otherwise been wasted.
Table of Contents
An enclosed elevator lobby has several advantages over an open-air version. Its small size and improved design make it less design-intrusive and provide greater control over smoke migration, reducing overall costs. The enclosed elevator lobby design meets the IBC code requirement for an elevator lobby with protected egress from the building.
One disadvantage of an enclosed elevator lobby is its limited usable space, which also feels dated. This trend is not popular in contemporary designs, which feature open-concept layouts. However, many building codes allow for exceptions, and the pressurized elevator shafts are the preferred alternative for most applications. If an enclosed elevator lobby is not feasible, you can always opt for an open-concept design.
Another reason to build an enclosed elevator lobby is that it saves space. If an elevator is in an atrium, it does not need a lobby. Some buildings use elevators without an elevator lobby because of the space. However, if the elevator is in a lobby, it will take up valuable space on each floor. A lobby can make an elevator feel larger and can give the building a more professional image.
Building codes have required enclosed elevator lobbies for almost 40 years, and they have provided occupants in multi-story buildings with increased protection from fires. They are a great way to minimize smoke migration and provide valuable space for fire departments to stage their operations. In recent years, some proponents have suggested removing the requirement altogether, citing technical analyses and the absence of losses.
Whether or not an enclosed elevator lobby is necessary for your building depends on the type of fire protection you are trying to achieve. The primary goal of an elevator lobby is to keep the fire from spreading to the hoistway, a high-risk area. Some buildings can achieve this goal without requiring additional compartmentation in the building. Some building codes even allow exceptions for these lobbies if the building has a pressurized elevator shaft.
An enclosed elevator lobby can help prevent fall accidents. Elevator cars are recalled to the lobby during the up-peak mode. This mode of operation is called up-peak mode and occurs when the number of people entering the building is moderate, like in the morning and after lunch. If the elevator doors are open for some time, the elevator dispatches another elevator to take their place. It encourages maximum use of the elevator system’s capacity.
Increasingly, architects are considering enclosed elevator lobbies to increase occupant safety and space utilization. In addition to increasing leasable/usable space, elevator lobbies also provide noise reduction benefits. Manufacturers of elevator lobbies have come up with various alternatives for the hoistway openings, including film and coiling fabric closures. Special coiling smoke doors have become commonplace in the design community.
An enclosed elevator lobby can also be used to store goods or services temporarily. It can contain a single door or double cascading doors. When parked on a particular floor, the door should remain open. If the elevator is used to transport goods, the doors should remain open while parked. It prevents the accumulation of dust and debris that might cause a fire. However, it does not eliminate the need for the noise reduction benefits of an enclosed elevator lobby.
An enclosed elevator lobby offers fire protection benefits without any additional building compartmentation. By separating the landing from contiguous fuels and limiting the fuel loaded in the elevator, an enclosed elevator lobby can significantly reduce the spread of fire and smoke. However, an enclosed elevator lobby is not a complete fire protection solution. Other methods, such as using automatic sprinklers, can be used to reduce fire spread. Listed below are three important aspects of an enclosed elevator lobby.
An enclosed elevator lobby can also be less design-intrusive. Enclosing the lobby allows you to control smoke migration better and reduce overall building costs. The International Building Code (IBC) recognizes the danger of smoke migration and requires that horizontal assemblies incorporate adequate fire protection.
One of the key benefits of an enclosed elevator lobby is that it offers greater security. Many fire safety codes require that buildings have an area of refuge where occupants can evacuate in case of a fire. Smoke-proof elevator lobbies protect the occupants from smoke and fire by reducing floor-to-floor smoke spread. A smoke-proof enclosed elevator lobby may also help prevent the spread of disease.
The enclosed elevator lobbies are required in multi-story buildings, and they increase the level of protection against smoke migration and reduce the fire department’s workload. Additionally, an enclosed elevator lobby is useful for fire department staging operations.