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Savaria® - Vuelift®

Designing and building a luxury home in downtown Chicago, boasting 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms with over 5100 square-feet (sf) of living space on a lot that’s only 2600 sf takes ingenuity and creativity.

For architect firm IPSA Architecture and Design, builder MOD Construction and structural engineers K. Eng Structural Consulting the situation was one faced by almost any developer working in large urban centers: how to maximize luxury living space on a small-footprint lot.

It’s fair to say they pulled it off. This elegant, contemporary home, located on a quiet stretch of Elm street yet steps away from the best of Gold Coast shopping and entertaining, sold in 2020 for $4.4 million (and is currently estimated by Redfin to be worth closer to $5 million). With a limestone exterior it certainly has curb appeal. Inside, glass combines with wood and stone to create drama and an open, airy feel.

Indeed, glass is a key feature throughout the design—from the two-story atrium that floods the space with natural light, through the custom lattice glass floor that provides views down to the lower-level entertainment area. To connect it all together, the Savaria® Vuelift® Octagonal panoramic residential elevator travels throughout all the floors of the home.

In dense urban centers like Chicago where land is at a premium and lots are often narrow, builders often maximize living space by building upwards and using more levels. And that in turn means adding a home elevator to appeal to buyers seeking both convenience lifestyle and the ability to age-in-place.

But for the Elm Street house, a traditional home elevator would have taken up a lot of space in the floorplan—especially as the designers wanted the lift to be centrally located and accessible from all areas of the home. It would also create a visual barrier disruptive to the open-concept space.

Then the project team found their wow-factor solution.

Gracefully ascending through the center of the home, the Vuelift Octagonal transforms simple conveyance into an architectural statement piece that integrates seamlessly with the overall design. From floors to skylights, glass is a key theme of this residence, and the clear acrylic hoistway and cab of the Vuelift fit right in. A feature wall provides additional visual interest as passengers travel up and down in the elevator.

The Vuelift offers incredible floorplan flexibility, allowing builders and designers to place it wherever it makes the most sense, whether that’s centered within a staircase or through-the-floor with a balcony attachment like in the Elm Street project. The integrated hoistway minimizes footprint while maximizing the cab area, and transfers the load to the bottom floor of the home.

That integrated hoistway also speeds installation, because no shaftway construction is required. For this project, installers Nationwide Lifts of Illinois were able to simply bring the lightweight components of the three-stop, 22.5-foot travel elevator in through standard door openings, down narrow hallways, and up stairwells with no special lifting equipment. The elevator was then just assembled in place.

The project team for the Chicago narrow home chose the Vuelift Octagonal acrylic out of the six Vuelift models currently available—a line-up ranging from the 50-inch-footprint Vuelift Mini to the ADA-compliant Octagonal+ Glass. Featuring a powder-coated steel frame in black, white, silver, or custom colors with either crystal clear low-iron silica glass or premium clear acrylic panels, Vuelift residential elevators are driven by an energy-efficient winding drum drive train system using two military-grade aircraft cables for a smooth, stable ride. Full-sized models offer a variety of cab configurations, including same-side, opposite-site, 90-degree, and three-sided entry/exit options (some configurations not available on Vuelift Mini).

The one-of-a-kind effect of the finished project in Chicago was perfect for this award-winning luxury residence. But it was achieved without the complexity and cost of customization. The Vuelift solution was the perfect complement to this modern home, and the project was recipient of Elevator World’s project of the year.


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