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Pembroke, a real estate manager of prestigious properties around the globe, planned a large renovation project at their property 1201 and 1225 New York Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. The main entrance at 1201 New York Avenue would be upgraded and become the new accessible entrance to the atrium. Handi-Lift collaborated with the architect on the project, Gensler, to design an accessibility solution that would complement the new dramatic entryway. 

The change in elevation to the main lobby floor is approximately 56 inches. There was not enough room for a ramp or enough space between the structural beams holding up the floor for an elevator shaft. The best solution to this accessibility challenge was a customized vertical platform lift.

Gensler had several aesthetic concerns for the lift that needed to be addressed. The stone and glass enclosure needed to be aligned with the stone and glass balustrade on the opposite side of the grand stone staircase.

The designers also did not want the lift mast visible next to the glass enclosure above the upper floor line. We addressed this concern by using a space below the lower landing floor for a deep pit. Handi-Lift engineers designed a drive system and guide system that eliminates the drive mast and cantilevered drives commonly used in standard vertical lifts. The new drive system was installed in the pit below the lift.

We used a direct-acting hydraulic drive with a remote pump and controller. This drive system has an increased capacity to lift the heavy platform, sling, glass and stone finishes and it provides superior ride quality for the user.

The full-support frame system allowed us to build the lift and test it in our shop before beginning installation at the site, dramatically reducing our time spent there. However, it increased the difficulty of transporting and handling the frame and installing it in the pit. Because the frame was a single piece and could not be adjusted, and we could not field verify the finished floor to floor or pit depth, the other trades had to agree to hold those dimensions.

Despite a compressed schedule, we were able to install the lift in the pit just in time to allow other trades to close in the lobby with the new store front. To meet the aggressive timeline, Handi-Lift and all the other trades worked simultaneously in the same space, performing double shifts throughout the week before the grand opening. The installation was completed right on time. We would like to acknowledge the hard work of Lorton Stone, who had to come in last to clad the lower parts of the lift with the matching stone. They did a fantastic job under extreme pressure.

We at Handi-Lift are happy to hear that an employee uses the lift every day, right from the day it was turned over to the customer. When we met the employee, the first thing she said was that this lift was a blessing.” We are grateful for the opportunity to provide this custom-designed accessibility equipment with our fabrication and equipment supplier partners. We believe this project achieves Accessibility with Dignity.”


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We can help you design the best possible accessibility solution for the end user: an installation that is code compliant, quiet, easy to use, reliable, provides a solid ride and looks good too!