Value Engineering: Durable, Beautiful Interiors for Blue Cross

Blue Cross Lobby - elevator interior 1 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.