Where’s the Elevator Call Button?

When you approach a bank of elevators, where do you look for the button to call the elevator? Near the middle of the elevator bank of course. Usually, if there is more than one elevator, you’ll find the button towards the middle of the set. Some large elevator banks have several call buttons, but still they are dispersed between elevators.

If you can approach the elevator bank from either direction, placing the call buttons in the center seems to make sense, but if the elevators are accessible from only one direction as you come down the hall, why not put the button at the end closest to the entry?

Compare this to walking into a dark room; you go to turn the lights on, so you expect the switch to located immediately next to the door. Would it make any sense to have to walk halfway into the room before you got to the switch? Now, if you were equally likely to enter the room from either of two different sides, and the room only had one switch, then the middle might make sense. Still, most often, more than one switch is possible, so you’d still want the one switch to be located one near each door.

Here’s the strange thing. This week I worked in an office building where the elevators could only be accessed from one direction and they actually had the foresight to place the buttons at the end of the hall where people entered, so you could hit the button immediately upon entering the elevator area and thus had to wait less time waiting for the the elevator to arrive.

And now the kicker. I was so used to having to walk to the middle of the elevator bank to find the call button that I completely missed the button the first time and had to stop when I’d reached the middle and look all over to find it. In that first instance it did take me longer than if the button had been where I have grown to expect it, but every time I used the elevators afterwards I appreciated the layout.

It upset me to think that due to the original poor design decisions of previous architects, and the proliferation of this poor design, I was so used to using the poor design that it actually was inconvenient for me to use the better designed elevator control.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *