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Costanera Center – Delivering on every level Santiago, Chile

With four towers, a massive shopping mall, and millions of visitors moving throughout the complex every month, the Costanera Center is a project on a huge scale. Home to South America’s tallest building – the 300-meter-high Gran Torre Costanera – the complex has over 700,000 square meters of floor space, roughly the same areas as 70 New York blocks in Manhattan. Providing vertical mobility solutions that could cope with high levels of traffic was paramount to the project’s success. Our team continues to maintain 136 elevators, escalators, and moving walks, all coordinated by Schindler PORT, to provide easy access and excellent passenger experience throughout the complex.

Key facts

Project stakeholders

  • Owner: Cencosud Shopping Center S.A.
  • Main Contractor: Salfa Construcciones
  • Architect Design: Alemparte Barreda & Associates, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Challenges and client brief

  • To build the tallest skyscraper in South America
  • Develop a mixed-use complex capable of servicing large numbers of people
  • Ensure safety in an area prone to earthquakes

Schindler solutions

  • Optimized the flow of traffic for a huge volume of visitors
  • Delivered vertical mobility solutions on a large scale, including double-deck elevators 
  • Monitored and maintained units providing excellent uptime over the past decade

Project highlights

For more than a decade, the Gran Torre Costanera has stood as the tallest building in South America. Designed by architect César Pelli, it’s a hard building to miss in Santiago’s skyline – reaching 300 meters into the sky, it’s more than 100 meters taller than the second tallest building in Chile and over double the height of the third.  

The skyscraper is one of four towers that, along with a six-floor mall, make up the Costanera Center. The complex sits in the heart of the Chilean capital’s financial district – known locally as Sanhatten – and in addition to the shopping center is home to Office Hub Costanera, which offers access to premium office space for rent, hotels, a cinema, and restaurants.   

Throughout the Costanera Center, we installed 69 elevators – including 19 Schindler 7000 Double-Deck elevators – 53 escalators and 14 moving walks, which help an estimated 3.6 million visitors per month move smoothly. 

Costanera Center, Santiago, Chile

"It was a massive project to begin with, a great undertaking, and one that our teams coped with and managed very well," says Marcio Croccia, our Latin America South CEO. "And of course, I’m very happy to say that today, over ten years after the complex opened, everything is still running smoothly there. It continues to be a great project, and above all a great partnership."

Unsurprisingly, the longest elevator ride is in the Gran Torre Costanera. Traveling at a maximum speed of seven meters per second, it climbs to a height of 272 meters – taking passengers to the observation platforms on the 61st and 62nd floors in under 40 seconds. From the Sky Costanera – the highest observatory in South America – visitors have unimpeded panoramic views of Santiago and the spectacular Andes Mountain range that borders the city to the east.

Our escalators in the Costanera Center

Safety first

"Already because of its dimensions, the Costanera Center presented us with a special challenge," explains Knut Ulrich, our Project Leader during construction. "On site, we had more than a hundred specialists installing elevators and escalators. It was a huge undertaking, but our teams of installers took it all in their stride and delivered excellent results."

In 2019, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) named the Gran Torre Costanera one of "The 50 Most Influential Tall Buildings of the Last 50 Years."

There were also other factors to consider during construction. With a tectonic fault line running the length of its coastline, Chile is prone to earthquakes. "The constant risk of earthquakes called for increased vigilance during the construction phase," explains Knut.

All our units comply with all of Chile’s strict guidelines for buildings in Seismic Zone II – the country is split into three seismic zones based on the risk they face. The standards specify constructional measures to protect against seismic shocks and control options to stop the elevators safely during an earthquake. The core of the towers, including the elevator shafts, were strengthened with large quantities of reinforced steel – which is not only strong but also ductile, allowing it to bend before breaking.

In the early morning of Saturday February 27, 2010, the complex was put through the sternest of tests. While still under construction it withstood a massive earthquake that measured 8.8º on the Richter scale – one of the largest to ever hit Chile – without structural damage.

Schindler PORT provides added security

Built to thrive

The Gran Torre Costanera was built with nature in mind – not only to protect it from earthquakes but to help it fit in with its unique surroundings. Innovative, sustainable solutions can be found throughout the skyscraper. Recycled steel was used to build it, water from the San Carlos Canal that runs in front of the building is used in its natural cooling system, and high-performance glass cladding, with intelligent solar shading, allows unobstructed views of the Andes Mountains while keeping the building energy efficient.

Our moving walks in the Costanera Center
No human-built form can compete with the power of these mountains. The tower is designed to be part of the city, without cosmic pretentions.

Cesar Pelli

The Costanera Center also includes 25,000 square meters – over twice the size of Trafalgar Square in London – of green space.  

The solutions we provided for the building complex are another example of sustainable design – with our vertical mobility systems helping the building attain LEED Gold certification.

"All of the high-rise elevators in the Costanera Center are fitted with our state-of-the-art Power Factor 1 (PF1) energy recuperation technology," explains Hernán Gallardo, our Service Leader for the Costanera Center. "This helps make the drives highly efficient, as it means they can regenerate energy and so require less to run."

One of our technicians at the Costanera Center

In the Gran Torre Costanera, we installed 19 Schindler 7000 Double-Deck elevators that effectively doubled the traffic capacity – compared to single-deck elevators – but without having to double the amount of space used for hoistways. Combined with our transit management system, Schindler PORT, we’re able to minimize waiting times and provide unparalleled efficiency and speed for all passengers moving throughout the building.

"The double-deck elevators coupled with Schindler PORT provide the optimal solution for the Gran Torre Costanera," says Hernán. "It’s easy to imagine the space saving across all 60 floors of the building and that translates into more rentable floorspace for our clients."

A proud partnership

As part of our ongoing joint commitment to safety, our maintenance teams visit the site regularly to make sure all our 136 elevators, escalators, and moving walks continue to run smoothly. Beyond general maintenance, our team is always on the lookout to improve our service. 

In that spirit, in 2019 we conducted our first cabin-to-cabin passenger rescue simulation in Gran Torre Costanera.​ The cabin-to-cabin rescue procedure serves as an additional back-up in the event of an emergency, allows the rescue team to move people safely from one elevator cabin to another, providing an additional exit strategy when the standard rescue procedure​ isn’t possible. 

"We’re very proud of the work we continue to do with the Costanera Center," says Marcio. "Our teams have worked together for many years, together we built the tallest building, and one of the largest malls in South America, we made it through the Covid-19 pandemic together, and we’ve looked after millions of visitors over the years. It’s been a true partnership."