Inazawa City, Japan, is the home of Mitsubishi Electric’s elevator division, and accordingly, the city skyline includes six small peaks—all towers that the company uses to test its product. Earlier this year, Mitsubishi inaugurated its seventh elevator testing tower, a 568-foot-tall structure that’s also the tallest building of its kind in the world.
According to Mitsubishi, the new precast-concrete-clad tower, called Solaé, is a direct response to a high-rise building boom. With record-breaking skyscrapers under construction in emerging markets like Dubai and Shanghai, the $50 million tower will be used to develop higher-speed, higher-capacity elevators. One such project has the goal of producing an elevator that travels faster than 3,300 feet per minute. The tower will also be used to test ropes and traction machines, prototype safety systems such as long-stroke buffers and large-scale safety gears, and technologies that lessen vibration and wind noise generated by high-speed elevator service.
Designed by Mitsubishi Jisho Sekkei, the tower features a 45-degree twist at its base that provides the building with its main seismic bracing; beveled corners reduce disturbance from wind. Engineers Takenaka Corporation and Shimizu Corporation also fitted the reinforced-concrete structure with oil dampers to mitigate vibration caused by seismic activity or wind. At the crown of the slender tower, a tuned mass damper also helps absorb lateral forces.
An adjacent building houses a showroom of elevator and escalator components and management systems.