January 15, 2020

Tackling campus elevator challenges — A heavy lift

The transportation grid on Wayne State’s campus includes streets, bike paths and more than 15 miles of sidewalks throughout the 200-acre area, all accommodating ground-level movement.  

Located within most of the university’s 125 buildings is another source of transportation — elevators, which vertically move faculty, staff and visitors from floor to floor. There are 145 elevators currently in service across campus, not including housing elevators managed by Corvias.

Maintaining a network of elevators is particularly challenging when dealing with a variety of buildings constructed in the 1930s, 1940s, 1960s and forward. Replacement parts are not readily available, and are often obsolete. There also is a shortage of technicians — locally and nationally — who are equipped and trained to perform the necessary repairs.

The Facilities Planning and Management (FP&M) team addresses elevator challenges on a 24-7 basis in terms of planning, new construction and responding to equipment failures. Working with FP&M is Schindler Group, an international elevator company under contract to the university to provide maintenance. Two Schindler technicians maintain offices on campus and are assigned full time to service the university’s elevators.

David Kuffner, director of trades maintenance for FP&M, says the challenges of elevator maintenance and new construction are ongoing and faced not only at Wayne State, but also at institutions throughout the nation. “The demand is huge, particularly since there are only approximately five international manufacturing companies and a small cross section of independent service providers, each suffering trade shortfalls for highly technical skill.”

Addressing the ongoing elevator challenges, FP&M recently moved forward with a plan that is beginning to see encouraging results. "We are pleased with the momentum we have gained through working with our consultant, National Elevator, in assessing and prioritizing our elevator repair strategy,” says Robert J. Davenport, associate vice president, FP&M. “Additionally, we are encouraged with the progress we are making in completing elevator modifications and repairs to Old Main, State Hall, Manoogian, Parking Structure 2, Applebaum, Scott Hall, Elliman, Engineering, 5425 Woodward and Life Science, to name a few."

Steven Pecic, senior director of operations and maintenance for FP&M, is encouraged by the interest and participation of community members. “The public support of our elevator maintenance efforts provides us all an opportunity to have many eyes on the systems that can go in and out of service rapidly.”

In an effort to keep the campus community informed about the status of elevator repairs, a webpage was recently launched detailing the current status of campus elevators. The frequently updated site may also be accessed from the Facilities Planning and Management homepage.

For information regarding elevator issues, the following contact points are available:

  • Students: If you need accessibility support, contact the Student Disability Services at 313-577-1851, or studentdisability@wayne.edu.
  • Faculty/staff: If there are accessible needs support, contact the Office of Equal Opportunity at 313-577-2280.
  • All visitors, students, faculty and staff: To report an elevator that is not working properly, notify the Facilities Planning and Management Service Center at 313-577-4315. For accessible needs support, contact Student Disability Services at 313-577-1851 or studentdisability@wayne.edu