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Express elevator makers covet IBD

With world’s 2nd-tallest skyscraper planned, Yongsan expects bidding war

Computer rendering of Yongsan International Business District in central Seoul. Provided by Yongsan Development Corp.

Foreign and domestic elevator makers are eyeing potentially lucrative deals within a project to build an international business district (IBD) in Yongsan District, central Seoul.

According to industry sources, Otis Elevator Korea, ThyssenKrupp Elevator Korea and Hyundai Elevator are fiercely vying for a share of total elevator sales from the project that are believed to be worth 500 billion won ($42.3 million).

The Yongsan IBD is already shaping up as one of the biggest construction projects in the country with a total value of 30 trillion won. It will consist of 14 skyscrapers that are taller than 200 meters (656 feet) and 52 additional buildings.

The district will also feature an international finance center, hotel, department store, shopping mall, apartment complex and cultural facility. Work is scheduled to begin next year and will be completed in 2017.

A total of 650 elevators and 450 escalators are expected to be installed, with bids due to start early next year.

“We will seek bids after the indoor designs and elevator specifications are finalized,” said an employee at Yongsan Development Corporation, which is overseeing the project.

“The total value of the elevators is estimated at 500 billion won.”

Competition is especially high to win orders for high-speed elevators that run faster than 300 meters per minute. These are more expensive to produce as they need to use more refined technology in order to maintain safety and comfort despite the accelerated speed without making riders dizzy.

The project’s Triple One building will have 111 floors and measure 620 meters, making it the world’s second-tallest skyscraper when it is built. If all goes according to plan, only Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (830 meters) will cast a longer shadow.

The prestige of the building, designed by Renzo Piano, has already attracted keen interest from numerous elevator manufacturers keen to be associated with it. It will require 40 high-speed elevators, with the fastest due to run at 800 meters per minute. These are expected to account for 30 percent of all elevator deals in the IBD.

Out of the 40, 10 will be double-deck elevators – which save time by allowing people to board from two floors at once – costing between 5 billion won and 7 billion won each. They will serve the observation deck on the 103rd floor.

Lotte World Tower – 123 floors, 555 meters – is set to become the first building in Korea to install the double-deck elevators after Otis won the coveted contract recently.

Hyundai claims to have already developed such elevators but has not yet installed any in buildings. It built Hyundai Asan tower, an elevator testing tower, where it has developed the world’s fastest elevator (1,080 meters per minute), according to the company.

Germany’s ThyssenKrupp is expected to propose twin elevators, or two elevators in a single shaft. It developed a technology that it claims makes collisions impossible.

By Limb Jae-un [jbiz91@joongang.co.kr]

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