Innovation At Its Best: A Case Study on 1845 Walnut Street

Innovation is not a product. It is a way of thinking. It’s forging new paths – but it is also encountering detours and developing alternative routes that lead to exceptional destinations. This is a concept that architects understand intuitively; and it is one that led to the installation of modern, beautiful, cost-effective elevator interiors for a corporate building in Philadelphia.

1845 Walnut: A Business Hub

1845 Walnut Street is a 350,000 square-foot office building in the heart of Pennsylvania’s largest city. Nestled in historic Rittenhouse Square, the parkside structure is a sought-after site for thriving businesses. With such a high profile location, the building needs to offer contemporary, state-of-the-art accommodations to its tenants.

The problem: the elevator cabs at 1845 Walnut were outdated. Dark and worn from decades of continuous use and abuse, the mirrored wall surfaces only emphasized drab interiors. The building needed to bring the elevators into the 21st century. After all, elevators are one of the most frequently utilized features in corporate settings.

An Old Friend with New Ideas – and Technology

Glenn Bostock, founder and CEO of SnapCab, installed 1845 Walnut’s original elevators more than 20 years ago. This was before he developed his revolutionary interlocking panel system – and before materials and technology existed to ensure maximum longevity and durability. Today, they do. Today, building owners and managers can opt for interiors that will stand the test of time.

Architect Fred Stern, whose firm Architectural Woodwork Industries is located at 1845 Walnut Street, took on the job. Knowing the elevators needed a complete renovation, Stern created a design scheme utilizing his beloved medium: wood. The veneer panels he envisioned would be shaped like inverted pyramids, requiring meticulous woodwork.

Beautiful. Intricate. Elaborate. And expensive. The cost for the materials and for the craftsmanship necessary was, ultimately, prohibitive. That avenue was blocked. So innovation looked for the detour.

Beauty and the Budget

Instead of wood veneers, what if the same effect could be created using cost-effective materials? With Gorilla® Glass, for example, you can print a high-quality image of wood and then apply a pristine, optically clear glass panel. Architect Stern was doubtful. He – understandably – loved the look and the feel of natural wood.

First, we created a sample. Stern wasn’t a fan. It was too glossy. Too shiny. In short: it just wasn’t wood. Another detour? No. Just a brief delay.

Taking Stern’s concerns back to the drawing board, we delivered a sample utilizing anti-glare Gorilla® Glass. It eliminated the gloss and shine, ensuring the printed image captured the depth, dimension, intricacy, and warmth of wood. And it convinced the skeptic.

Change Is Good

Innovation is flexibility. The client then decided to change the scope of the areas outside the elevators, opting to use bamboo veneer on the walls. It’s a great choice that conveys a strong sense of light and sustainability however, the proposed elevator design featured dark wood.

To achieve a consistent aesthetic throughout, we scanned one of the bamboo wall panels and printed the high-resolution image onto the back of Gorilla® Glass. A perfect match. Now, the elevator interior design aligns with the overall look of the building. The fresh, contemporary feel befits a thriving corporate building in the midst of a business hub.

A Better Solution

Initial cost was only one consideration. The original design called for wood veneer. Wood is natural; as such, it is also vulnerable. The surface is subject to scratches, dings, and dents. To spend significant resources, and time, creating a gorgeous wood design only to have it ruined in a short time is a shame, and a waste.

Further, replacement is a challenge. In addition to day-to-day wear and damage, wood oxidizes naturally as it ages. The color changes. Matching is impossible, and you cannot simply replace one panel if it’s damaged. The whole cab would need to be redone. A vulnerable material, like wood, plus the difficulty of replacement equals a big, expensive, problem.

It is a problem that Gorilla® Glass solves. With high-quality printing, you can recreate any image in living color and in exceptional detail. The glass offers unparalleled protection and durability. If there is a problem with a panel, you can simply reprint and replace quickly and efficiently.

Where There’s Innovation, There’s a Way

You do not have to sacrifice your design intent for cost considerations. With the right partner, you can find solutions that satisfy all of your needs – beautifully. Innovative thinking and solutions ensure that you can take an even better, more efficient, route to your destination.

Code Blue: How RWJ Revived Its Facilities To Deliver On Its Mission

The Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital – or RWJ – is committed to building and fostering a “culture of health” that empowers people to live better lives. Their work is based on a solid foundation of community, quality, ease of access, and dignity and respect. Through an extensive, ongoing renovation project, RWJ is bringing its facilities up-to-date. This will allow them to continue delivering on their promises – and ensure their appearance reflects the quality of their care.

Great Care – Dated Facilities

When it comes to healthcare, RWJ is a leader. The problem was that you wouldn’t have necessarily known it from the state of some of their facilities. Worn and dated, they needed some updating. What better place to start than with the elevators? In a large hospital, elevators are critical to patient care and visitor experience.

RWJ needed elevator interiors that were:

  • Durable. With carts banging into the walls, personnel bustling around, and patients being transported, hospital elevators endure a great deal of use. The cabs had to be able to withstand abuse and look newer much longer.
  • Non-microbial. Hospitals are a hotbed for germs and bacteria; sanitary conditions are non-negotiable.
  • Easy to clean and maintain. With the risk of fluids, bacteria, and germs, the cabs had to be easy to clean. As well, dingy elevators don’t inspire confidence in patients and visitors.
  • Color-matched. RWJ wanted to be able to color coordinate the elevators and hallways so they could be used for wayfinding. For example, “Take the blue elevator to the blue hall, then follow the green corridor.” Such a technique makes navigating the facilities much easier.
  • Attractive. There’s no denying it; few people want to be in a hospital. Patients and visitors often experience stress and anxiety. Welcoming spaces can alleviate those feelings a bit.

We helped RWJ find the right solution for all of these needs. Wilsonart Compact, a specialty laminate is:

  • Extremely durable. It is often used in high-impact applications, such as lockers, cabinets, and elevator interiors. It will last for years, and it will look fresh and clean all the while.
  • Sanitary. The nonporous, non-microbial surface deters bacteria and germ growth. With routine cleaning, the hospital could vastly improve the health and safety of its elevators.
  • Color Compatible. Compact is available in over 200 colors and patterns. This made it easy for RWJ to accomplish its wayfinding mission.
  • Cost-Effective. Cost is always a consideration; with Wilsonart Compact, RWJ saved on initial costs. They will also continue to accrue savings for the life of the interiors, thanks to our interlocking panel system. For example, if a panel needs to be replaced for some reason, they can simply pull out the old one and install a new one quickly.

Beyond the Elevator

Since Wilsonart Compact was such a great solution for the cab interiors, why not extend it outside the elevators? This is just what RWJ did. Seeing the quality, durability, versatility, and practicality that the specialty laminate offered, they opted to have us install wall panels that provided the same benefits.

Not only did the use of coordinated elevator interiors and wall panels allow for a cohesive appearance throughout the building, it created a clean, healthy, attractive way to help people find their way around the hospital.

RWJ’s culture of health guides every decision they make; providing exceptional service and maintaining the highest standards is paramount. This commitment is now clearly reflected in their facilities. Each feature is designed to improve patient care and ensure a comfortable, soothing environment for anyone who walks through the doors.

From Outdated Hospital To Urban Hotspot: The Transformation Of Metro Club

In Philadelphia’s Old City District, residents live side-by-side with the past and tread the same streets as the Founding Fathers. The neighborhood was ground zero for the American Revolution. Today, it’s undergoing another kind of revolution, transforming into an urban hotspot with thriving business, art, and fashion communities – and the best cheesesteaks in Philly. In the Old City, home is where the heart, and the history, is.

Bringing Metro Club into the 21st Century

Philadelphia is proud of its heritage – but the Metro Club building was clinging a bit too hard to the past. Owners wanted to transform the former hospital into high-end condos; the terminally outdated elevators and drab lobby, however, weren’t rising to the level of “upmarket residence.”

These spaces – the heart and soul of any building – needed a complete overhaul, a renovation that would welcome tenants and visitors as soon as they walk in the doors.

The Keys to Success: Streamlined Planning and Simplicity

Metro Club’s owners browsed through SnapCab’s catalog and selected an elegant wood laminate. The light finish they choose would banish the gloom of the existing dark brown elevator interiors, creating a sense of warmth.

Now it was time to focus on the lobby. The area behind the front desk – which would become the logical focal point as people entered the building – was as dated as the elevators. To remedy this, we suggested that the owners use the same wood laminate paneling that was going to be featured in the cabs. Because of the simplicity of the paneling system, doing so would not require extensive planning or preparation.

The owners loved the idea. More importantly, they loved the results. Incorporating the same panels in both the elevators and the lobby allowed for a consistent look and feel. Additionally, it enabled the owners to make significant progress in their goal of re-imagining the old hospital into a new, high-end living space.

Within just three months, Metro Club’s elevators and lobby area were updated for its upscale clientele. The specification and installation processes were remarkably streamlined: the owners looked through the catalog, saw a product they wanted, and, from there, it was simply a matter of installing the paneling system. Sometimes, it is just that easy.

New Life In The Old City

The Old City’s many industrial buildings are an important part of the area’s history. Converting them into chic living spaces allows residents to enjoy the vibrancy of this unique neighborhood. The Metro Club’s transition from dreary hospital to sought-after urban retreat is just one example of how the Old City continually renews itself. You, too, can breathe new life into your buildings – elevators, lobbies, conference rooms, and more – with simple, streamlined solutions.

An Appetite For Innovation: 7 Things You Need to Know About A SnapCab Lunch & Learn

SnapCab Lunch & Learns are aimed at those with an appetite for innovation and creative solutions that will transform an entire building. When you book your lunch & learn, what can you expect – in addition to great food? Here are the 7 things you need to know:

1. The Agenda. During the 60 minutes, you will learn about SnapCab products and our history of innovation. We will educate you about what we do, how we do it, and the revolutionary materials with which we do it. Expect to cover topics such as materials, lead times, specification, technology integration, and more.

2. The Presentation. In addition to a PowerPoint presentation, you’ll have the opportunity to get a hands-on look at some of our product offerings, such as Gorilla® Glass, and our sample box (yours to keep and explore). It’s the perfect way to start imagining the possibilities.

3. It’s About More Than Just Elevators. Elevators have been the core of SnapCab’s business for over 20 years, and our systems streamline and simplify specification, compliance, and installation. At the same time, these same systems can revolutionize areas outside the elevator. You’ll learn how.

4. The Audience. SnapCab lunch & learns are intended for architects and designers, but feel free to invite others. Although this is not an accredited lunch & learn, you will receive in-depth product-specific knowledge that you can apply on your next project.

5. The Value You’ll Receive. You will learn about products that solve complex problems. Rather than pouring significant time and resources into designing a wall system – which may or may not be feasible, and which or may not be within budget – you can learn about the benefits of our patented interlocking panels. The quick, efficient product ensures that you don’t have to spend 1000 hours recreating the wall. We’ve done it; now we can use these systems to bring your vision to reality.

6. Timing is Flexible. Many designers and architects don’t follow a typical 9:00 to 5:00 schedule; creativity and inspiration don’t punch a time clock. In that case, we also offer another option—a wine and cheese event is typically held in the late afternoon or early evening. In addition to wine, beer, or non-alcoholic beverages and cheese, you will interact with samples, discuss materials and products, and talk shop with other professionals. It’s informal, informative, and fun. Just give us a call or fill out the form on our website to book your lunch & learn.

7. The Next Steps. After your lunch & learn, contact our interior specialist with your project needs. We can help you build the specification, provide samples & renderings, and work with you every step of the way towards project completion.

A lunch & learn or wine and cheese evening is a fun and interactive way to help you gain a better understanding of our products and materials – and how you can apply these solutions to your current and future projects. Be sure to bring your curiosity, your ideas, and your appetite.

Take it From an Architect: 3 Surprise Lessons SnapCab Taught Me About Elevators

If you think elevator cab interiors are all function and no form, or that their design is just an afterthought, think again. Working with SnapCab on my last project, I learned a few things about elevators that I wish someone had told me years ago. Take a look and see if it changes the way you think about specifying elevator interiors:

  1. Elevators Matter. A Lot.

    When I dream about working on high-profile, fun, innovative projects, designing and specifying the elevator never used to come to mind. But it should.

    In the United States, elevators travel some 7.2 trillion feet every year and every time they make a trip, there are people taking in the details of that space. These numbers helped me realize that elevators are, in many ways, the heart of the building – and the effort and energy I put into them as an architect will be seen by thousands of passengers. They have to be functional, of course, but they can also be an integral aspect of the overall design and aesthetic of the building. Elevators are one of the most-used features in any building – why waste that opportunity to make a statement?

  2. There’s a Way to Achieve Your Vision Without Breaking Your Budget.

    I used to think that spending much time considering the design of an elevator interior was, honestly, kind of pointless. There are so many rules and regulations, I thought it was impossible to achieve the look I wanted.

    Working with SnapCab opened my eyes to the different code compliant materials and technologies that are available for elevator interiors today. Getting the look of marble, wood, and custom patterns and colors is actually extremely do-able.

    Even better, getting the look of these materials isn’t even “custom” design. You can specify a SnapCab system and choose from a comprehensive list of models and materials to create a custom-looking, but standard priced, elevator cab in minutes.

  3. Specifying an Elevator Can Be Quick and Easy.

    SnapCab systems are designed to snap into place – literally. For a trained technician, this means quick and easy installation. I was pleasantly surprised to find that specifying an interior is just as easy.

    After discussing my priorities and vision with one of their Interior Specialists, he pointed me to a few options that would work best for my needs and those of my client. He took the time to show me material options and explain how I could make modifications to achieve my original design intent while meeting code requirements. Instead of waiting weeks for samples or drawings, I had them in my hands within days. It couldn’t have been any simpler.

My one piece of advice: don’t forget the elevator! Not only are elevators critical to the building’s functionality and its aesthetic, elevator interiors present a unique opportunity for us as architects and designers to think outside the box. But more than that, it’s actually far simpler than you would anticipate to get a “custom” design on time and on budget. If you can partner with an expert elevator company like SnapCab, specifying your elevator will be easy, efficient, and – dare I say it – even exciting.

Value Engineering: Durable, Beautiful Interiors for Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross (IBX), the largest health insurance provider in Philadelphia was renovating the lobby of their downtown headquarters. They decided to upgrade their dated elevators to complement the rest of the building. The IBX Tower (also known as the G. Fred DiBona Jr. Building) is one of the tallest – and busiest – buildings in Philadelphia. The steady influx of employees and visitors ensure that the 23 elevators run constantly; in the mornings, there are actual line-ups of people waiting to board the elevators. Any cab interior in this building has to withstand extreme, ongoing use. The problem: the materials the design team wanted to feature inside the cabs just wouldn’t work in the cabs. Why not – and would they find a better alternative?  

Longevity: A Design That Can Survive Constant Use

Initially, the architect shared their design intent and material preferences with the SnapCab team; we responded with value engineered suggestions; options designed to improve value by either reducing cost or improving function.

Their design team envisioned a rift cut oak veneer to match the lobby. In theory, it would look great – but our team knew that with the heavy traffic these elevators are subject to, the veneer would not last. Next, we examined the possibility of protecting the oak veneer behind sheets of laminated glass, but it quickly became apparent that the heavy glass would mean that the cabs wouldn’t pass rigorous weight requirements.

Beautiful Design Meets Light-Weight Durability

The architects on this project had clear design intent. The question was how could we make their vision a viable reality? How could we value engineer a solution that passed code requirements and used their resources most efficiently? And how could we ensure that the beauty of the design was protected and prepared for heavy use? Our solution: print an image of rift cut oak veneer on the back of thin, lightweight, ultra-strong Gorilla® Glass. Printing the design directly to the glass would reduce the weight, meaning the cabs would be up to code. Their team had just one concern: would the panels look real or like laminate? To that, we explained how we would photograph different sections of the wood. When printed, each panel would be slightly varied – just like the natural grains of oak. With the high-resolution printing capacity and pristine color reproduction of Gorilla Glass, their panels would look like real wood, not laminate.

A Policy for Value

Part of our value engineered solution for IBX was education. Teaching the team of architects about materials, codes, and requirements enabled them to specify interiors that satisfied their design intent and facilitated compliance. Today, the Blue Cross headquarters’ elevator interiors reflect the aesthetic of the building and can withstand virtually non-stop journeys carrying thousands of employees and visitors every day.

Next Floor: Innovation. Google’s Elevator Interior Story

Innovation is wired into every strand of Google’s DNA. Behind the walls of the Mountain View, California headquarters, the most brilliant minds in technology transform complex codes and sophisticated algorithms into solutions that are intuitive, game-changing, and above all, simple.

The Disconnect Between Google and its Elevators

At HQ, or “Googleplex,” they imagine the future — and they do it in an environment that empowers creation and invention. Every quirky element, from animated flooring to custom logo furniture to a full-size T-Rex skeleton replica (named Stan), captures Google’s unique identity. Except for five elevators in an executive office building that houses the Chrome team. Those needed some work.

Conveying Innovation in an Elevator

For Google, the design of the elevators was paramount: it had to express their identity. Google wanted to incorporate their highly-recognizable Chrome logo into the elevator interiors and the design had to align with Google’s image as a high-tech hotbed of innovation. The company epitomizes simplicity in design and complexity with design intent. Even their elevators had to keep up – and on a relatively modest budget.

The Ups and Downs of Designing for Google HQ

With any large (or extremely large, in this case) company, there is often layer upon layer of approvals needed to move a project forward. We worked with Google’s head of facilities, facility manager, and in-house designer on options until we could find the solution that was just right.

The best option finally presented itself— Gorilla® Glass. Since we began working with Corning®, the creator of Gorilla® Glass, we knew it was the perfect fit: bring two innovative companies together to create exceptional results worthy of Google. The SnapCab and Corning teams met with Google to show them all that Gorilla Glass can do.

Future-Proofing the Elevator Interiors

This ultra-thin, ultra-durable glass enables pristine colors and highly precise printing while conforming to rigid weight requirements, making it perfect to display the Chrome logo – while allowing the panels to meet code. Success!

But that got us thinking. What if the elevators could mimic the Google Doodles – and change with every important event that Google marks? What if the elevator panels could display Google’s homepage not as an image, but as an interactive touchscreen? After all, Gorilla Glass is used on 4.5 billion touchscreen-enabled devices worldwide. Though the touchscreen elevators panels are still a thing of the future, Google is poised to be one of the first to have them. For a company committed to continuous evolution and improvement, a Gorilla Glass interior with its unlimited possibilities is the perfect choice.

The Results: Leading Edge Design, On Budget

With the new design, Google achieved all of its goals. At the time, Gorilla Glass for Interior Architecture was relatively new to the market and Google was happy to be an early-adopter. The glass itself helps convey the tech giant’s love of simplicity, innovation – and, thanks to high-res printing — those signature primary colors.

The design, while leading-edge, was also budget-conscious. We used Gorilla Glass on the upper panels of the rear wall, integrating it with complementary materials on the lower panels. This saved money while offering all of the future-capacity Google wanted. With our system, they can easily replace a single interactive panel into the existing system with no fuss or hassle.

The Google Treatment for Everyone, Everywhere

While Google may have more yurts, hammocks, and nap pods than your average office, designing elevator interiors for the company wasn’t so different than doing it for others. We cut through the red tape by meeting regularly for design sessions, giving and receiving feedback, providing renderings, samples, and mock-ups quickly, and moving designs from conception to completion as efficiently as possible – the same way we do for every project we work on. Aligning your brand with your elevator interior, and doing it in a cost-conscious way, couldn’t be easier.

Lifting Patient Care to the Next Level: Elevators at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Children’s Hospital

When patients and their families walk into the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Children’s Hospital, they encounter something unexpected. It’s easy to mistake the innovative interior for a children’s museum or art gallery. Designed by and for families, this facility provides world-class health care, along with a healthy dose of comfort, hope, and fun.

When Nemours/Alfred I. duPont added a new wing, they realized they needed to update the entire facility so it aligned with the hospital’s status as a leading provider of children’s health services. They knew they needed their elevators to reflect the same positive, safe atmosphere as the rest of their building. The trouble was, how?

Diagnosis: Dated Facility

Nemours/Alfred I. duPont’s extensive five-year renovation began from the ground up – with the elevators. They had several key needs:

  • Easy to Keep Clean. The current elevator interiors featured fabric-covered panels, something the hospital couldn’t wait to change. The hospital had to have easily-maintained non-microbial, nonporous surfaces that prevented bacterial growth.
  • Durable. The life of a hospital elevator isn’t easy. With constant traffic, carts, x-ray machines, and hospital beds passing through, the cabs would have to be built for the long-haul.
  • Colorful. The massive hospital had an ingenious plan to help patients, families, and visitors navigate: they used colors to guide them. For example, “Take the purple elevator to the third floor, go down the hall and turn left at the blue elevator.” They needed the colors to match exactly throughout the building so people could find their way easily.
  • Operational ASAP. Nemours/Alfred I. duPont’s top priority has always been patient care and quality of service. To keep to that mandate, they needed the elevator renovation to be complete as quickly a possible.

Prescription for Success

The Nemours/Alfred I. duPont design team modified a cab model from SnapCab’s catalog, reviewed samples and presentation boards, and they were in business. It was that fast, and that easy. Their selected model featured Corning® Gorilla® Glass, which could meet every single one of their needs.

  • Easy to Keep Clean. Gorilla Glass is easy to clean and maintain and is non-microbial. The nonporous panels require just routine cleaning to oust germs from elevators.
  • Durable. Ultra-durable Gorilla Glass is used on over 4.5 billion devices, so it’s designed to put up with a ton of wear and tear. In the unlikely event that damage occurs, it’s easy and affordable to replace it.
  • Colorful. Another critical feature of this glass is that it is clear and pristine. It doesn’t have the green or blue tint that many glasses have, so color can be reproduced accurately. Given paint samples, we simply custom matched the colors on the glass panels – and through the Gorilla Glass, they remain an exact match.
  • Operational ASAP. After the design pros specified their interiors, installation was fast. Certified installers worked during the day, and a flooring contractor came in at night. The elevators were down for only a minimal time, so the hospital staff could work business as usual.

Prognosis: Gorilla Glass is a Cure With Incredible Potential

Nemours/Alfred I. duPont was so excited about the quality and possibilities of Gorilla Glass that they are considering using it in areas outside the elevators. Their lobbies, for instance, could benefit from the same durable, clean, and customizable surfaces. The hospital leadership team also plan to renovate the elevators in their medical office building, relying on the same quality and convenience they experienced with this project.

Every decision that the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont team made was for their patients. They are deeply committed to providing the healthiest environment and most positive experience for children and their families. Their colorful, durable elevators play a crucial role in the hospital’s ability to function and to save lives.