Elevators with no floor buttons.

I was in a professional building last week and came across an elevator system I had not seen before. There were 5 elevators in the hallway. You used a touch screen display to find and select the department you want to visit. It then assigns an elevator to you and that door opens. Step inside and it takes you to the floor you are going to. There are no controls in the car at all, just a light to indicate which floor you stop at. Oh well, what can go wrong?


I don’t know. What can go wrong?

I’d assume something can wrong if it is a building like mine where departments often change floors and it isn’t updated on the touchscreen system.

Wouldn’t the workers have trouble getting to their new floor?

I interviewed in a building like that once. The elevator floor opening was controlled by the Front Desk. You could only get off on your assigned floor or the ground floor.

It’s the ultimate in Control. Or Paranoia.

Lots of possible errors: Changing your mind on where you want to go, realizing you made a mistake, etc. You have to get off the elevator at the wrong floor, push the new destination, wait for the elevator to come, etc. (Vs. you’re on your way from 1 to 5, realize you need to see Judy on 3, push 3 quickly.)

Then there’s newbies. You make a selection, get on, someone just walking up gets on, stares at the panel, not fun stuff ensues.

What if you don’t know the department? You only know it’s Fred in room 403. How long does it take you to figure out how to get to the 4th floor?

And on and on and on.

This is an “F” for user friendly design.

I’m disappointed. I read the title as “no floor bottoms”.

I’m sure it could be implemented badly, but I worked in a building in the past where it worked great.
Key in your floor in a keypad by the entrance as you enter the building.
Go to the elevator letter that flashes at you to find an open elevator waiting for you.
Get to the elevator at about the same time as 2 or 3 other people.
The elevator detects that the 3 or 4 people have gotten on and immediately closes the door and gets going.

“Welcome to the all-new Acme Premier elevator, the latest in technology. The Acme Premier can understand English and will take you wherever you want to go. Please state your desired floor.”

“Four, please.”

“Going to floor ten as requested. Please fasten your seat belts as it will be a bumpy ride.”

“No, not ten! Four! Four!”

“Now arriving at floor ten. Please exit the elevator and do not dawdle, as others are waiting.”

“You took me to the wrong floor! I want floor four, dammit!”

“Patrons will not talk back to the elevator. Patrons who sass the elevator will be sorry. It’s a long way down, remember. Now get out!”

Thank you for traveling Ajax.

We have that setup in my building. It supposedly cuts down on the scenario where everybody crams into the first available elevator by “pre-sorting” the riders into different cars.

It’s also a security precaution. We were having problems with thieves and disgruntled ex-clients trying to come up and cause trouble.

Scottish voice-activated elevator.


I once stayed in a hotel that used exactly that system. You pushed your floor on a keypad in the elevator lobby and bye and bye an elevator came along and took you and others, stopping only at the floors requested. Going down, you just pushed the elevator button. I think there was way to go between floors (I assume the staff had some kind of override); you just went between your floor and the lobby. I can’t remember where this was. I think it was actually activated by your room key.

So, if two people come in at the same time, but are going to different floors, how do the elevators indicate which one is for whom?

While I’m sure security is the reason for this in some buildings, in my office building and other buildings I’ve been in, I’m pretty sure the reason is to save energy by moving people more efficiently.

In my building, they spent a lot of money switching from the regular up/down button, floor buttons in the elevator system to the current system where you choose your floor on a screen outside of the elevator and it tells you where to go. You can choose any floor in your elevator bank from any other floor, so it’s definitely not security. They wouldn’t spend all that money for no reason, so we all suspect that it helped them get green certification or something like that.

I’ve been in other buildings where only the ground floor makes you choose a floor first. But, once you’re on another floor, you go with the old system – press up or down then choose the floor inside the elevator. Maybe they get partial credit for that.

I don’t know why it’s more efficient or greener to do it that way, but I can’t think of any other reason why my building would change things over.

The real downside to the system is that now I find when I’m in a regular building, I often get into the elevator and just wait, forgetting to press the floor I want to go to. More than once, I’ve gotten in, the doors close, and I just wait. I finally notice I’m not moving (or the doors reopen to let others in) and I remember to press the floor button.

In my building, every floor has several touchscreens. You press your desired floor and the elevator number shows up. Then, someone else presses his/her floor and they get one assigned (may be the same elevator, which can make multiple stops).

Yes, our hotel in Naples had this system. I quite liked it. There wasn’t that much in Naples that I did like, so it’s nice to have at least one good memory.

It’s call “destination dispatch” and as mentioned above, it sorts riders by floor so at the start of the day, or coming back from lunch, each elevator doesn’t need to stop at every floor. It may seem goofy to have to pre-select your floor when you’re the only person in the lobby, but the system really shines at “rush hour” when an elevator full of people only needs to go to one or two floors to unload passengers, then zip back to the lobby for more.

How it works is you just punch in your desired floor and the keypad then displays a letter and arrow to guide you to the appropriate elevator.

The security aspect where the lobby desk guard does that for you so you can’t wander the building is just a neat side effect. Another benefit is energy efficiency, but the primary purpose is maximizing efficiency of an elevator system. I once saw a writeup of how someone like Otis or Schindler converted a hotel’s elevators to destination dispatch and the wait times for an elevator to arrive and trip times were both greatly improved just with what’s essentially a software update. (No faster motors, no adding elevators, etc.)

The touchscreen tells you what elevator to go to after you select your floor.

I worked in a building with this system and it worked great. Made things very efficient because people would be sorted according to what floor they were going to, with nearby floors sorted to the same car. You rarely had to wait more than ten seconds for an elevator, either up or down.

But what if Jason Voorhees or Michael Meyers is chasing you and you don’t want him to know which floor you’re getting off at?

ETA: and how are our kids supposed to play elevator tag when they get bored on “Take Your Kids to Work Day”?