New world's fastest elevators go 40 mph

China is building massive new towers with innovative technologies. But is it really a sign of progress?
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

China is in the middle of a skyscraper building binge. The latest milestone came recently when the last beam was laid for the main structure of The Shanghai Tower -- soon to be the second tallest tower in the world at 2,073 feet. And in reaching these new heights, the tower is also leading to another breakthrough: the world's fastest elevators.

According to Gensler, the architecture firm that designed the building, these elevators will be the fastest in the world traveling at 40 mph. The double-deck elevators were designed by Mitsubishi, which have developed new elevator technologies specifically for this project (here's how it works).  In addition to speed, the emergency elevator is expected to be the longest in the world, traveling 1898 feet, when it opens in 2015.

Innovative technology and shiny new skyscrapers are great, but at what cost? As Lily Kuo points out at Quartz, skyscrapers might not be a sign of an economy reversing its slowing trend.

But the latest building craze comes at a time when the Chinese economy has slowed to a pace economists say may be the new normal. Ghost towns, empty shopping malls, and rising vacancy rates suggest that more construction isn’t what China needs right now. (Some note that ambitious skyscraper projects actually precede an economic collapse.)

Look out below.

Photo: Flickr/J . YANG

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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