Install an all-glass home elevator without compromising the home’s design aesthetic with a load-bearing wall on the elevator shaft.
The Savaria® Vuelift® Octagonal Acrylic panoramic glass home elevator with integrated hoistway.
On a quiet cul-de-sac in Madeira Beach, Florida, visitors to the neighborhood sometimes stop to watch the Savaria® Vuelift® Octagonal panoramic home elevator as it travels between levels of the home.
Visible to passersby thanks to a glass wall on the home’s exterior that runs from top to bottom, and sited in the center of a winding staircase inside the Salebra family’s coastal contemporary custom home on the shores of Boca Ciega Bay, the Vuelift packs an aesthetic punch that literally stops traffic.
“Riding it is an experience, which is exactly what we wanted,” says homeowner Mark Salebra. “And the aesthetic is perfectly attuned to the rest of our home. As a coastal contemporary design, there is a lot going on, but the combination of the staircase and the Vuelift cleans everything up and ties everything together. For all its visual impact, it’s a very simple, elegant machine, with just a touch of an industrial feel. From the outside looking in, it’s particularly impressive at night when it’s lit up. It’s the icing on the design cake.”
The original plan for the home called for a traditional home elevator with a glass cab inside a glass hoistway. The problem? A traditional elevator would require a solid support wall that would limit the view—they needed a truly panoramic solution.
Project builder/developer KMG Property Mgmt & Construction, based in Clearwater, Florida, began to look for alternatives that would meet the client’s design goals. In discussion with Savaria’s local direct sales and installation office, Florida Lifts LLC, the Vuelift Octagonal in acrylic came away as the clear winner.
The Vuelift, an all-in-one unit, includes an integrated hoistway with a steel frame that provides all the structural strength required without the need for a load-bearing wall. The wiring is run out of sight through the frame, and the motor and mechanical are hidden away inside the elevator’s steel header. For the Salebra home the complete package turned out to be more cost-effective than the original plan of a traditional residential elevator model customized to be all glass.
Once the choice was made, Florida Lifts worked with KMG to develop a plan to ensure a flawless installation.
Meticulous attention to elevator install detail
The three-stop elevator in the Salebra residence has a total travel of 294 inches, with only a half-inch tolerance at the pit and at each level. That meant site prep and meticulous measurement were key factors in the success of the project. Florida Lifts used a “measure 10 times and cut once” approach, adapting quickly in the field to accommodate any of the myriad modifications that can occur on a new residential construction project—even a change in the type of flooring used in one room of a home can require remeasuring to ensure the acrylic panels for the elevator hoistway are a perfect fit.
Unlike traditional elevator projects where the shaftway is built earlier on in the construction process and then the elevator installed later on when the home is about 75% complete, the Vuelift on this project was installed after all the fittings and finishings in the home were in place.
The Vuelift is installed 100% on site, with first the pit, then the metal frame, and finally the panels and cab. The Florida Lifts installation crew had to work carefully to ensure they did not damage any other elements within the home—stairs, railing, windows or paint—they even wore booties over their safety shoes to protect the new floors. And with the elevator centered in a winding staircase, they had to manage their meticulous attention to detail—not to mention erecting scaffolding—working in extremely tight confines and small corners, while always being hyper-aware of the exterior glass wall facing the street.
That glass exterior wall is designed to allow natural light to flood into the living space inside the home, giving it a more open and airy feel, but it would also show up every smudge, scratch or flaw in the Vuelift hoistway. The three-person Florida Lifts installation team spent an additional eight hours buffing and shining the unit to ensure it was blemish-free prior to turning it over to the homeowners.
Despite the need for such great care, the entire installation was completed just a few weeks after the unit left the Savaria warehouse near Toronto, Canada.
Rethink what a home elevator can be
The Savaria Vuelift panoramic glass home elevator opens up new vistas in residential mobility design.
Striking aesthetics. Incredible floorplan flexibility. The Vuelift lets you bring the home elevator into the spotlight. Give clients a wow-factor statement piece that also provides convenience, safety, mobility and adds value.
Available in Round and Octagonal shapes with six models to choose from, ranging from the 50-inch-footprint Vuelift Mini to the ADA-compliant Octagonal+ Glass. Choose the size, form and position that best fit the home’s layout and clients needs. The powder-coated steel frame is even available in customized colors to match interior décor.
Whether in a country manor, urban townhome or penthouse condo—new build or retrofit—the Savaria Vuelift lets you design outside the box.
All Vuelift models are available in same-side (Type 1) and opposite-side (Type 2) cab configurations. Standard-sized Round and Octagonal models are also available in 90-degree (Type 3R) and three-entrance (Type 6) configurations.
Owner: Private Residence—Salebra Family
Builder/Developer: KMG Property Mgmt& Construction, Clearwater, Florida
Architect: Design Styles Architecture, Tampa, Florida
Transportation-Systems Contractor: Florida Lifts – a division of Savaria, Boynton Beach, Florida
Equipment Manufacturer: Savaria