Protecting a Vacant Office Building Turned Hotel From Smoke and Fire

Case Study: Springhill & Towneplace Suites Marriott Hotel

In 2017, Dallas developer Newcrest Image and Campo Architects finished a project to turn an old 1966 office building into a dual-branded Marriott hotel. The historic Murphy Oil Building had sat vacant for over a decade after Hurricane Katrina swept through the area in 2005. Located in New Orleans, Springhill Suites is on floors two through six, while Towneplace Suites is located on floors seven through 13, with a rooftop bar and garden available for both hotels on the 14th floor. 

The Challenge

Campo Architects wanted the elevators to open directly on the hotel’s corridors and to the rooftop bar. Commonly an enclosed elevator lobby is used to satisfy building code requirements for smoke and fire safety reasons. 

They also had to find a way to deal with elevator shaft pressurization for the Kone elevators. While the original plan was to use shaft pressurization, the elevator company said that it would void the warranties. So they needed to find a way to protect the elevators from smoke without using shaft pressurization.

The Solution

There are a total of 39 elevator openings in this 105 room hotel that needed to be protected in the event of a fire. To avoid enclosed lobbies and elevator shaft pressurization issues, Campo Architects chose to use Smoke Guard’s M400 elevator smoke curtains.

These transparent curtains work with the elevators’ fire-rated doors to provide comprehensive and code-compliant smoke and draft opening protection. Using the M400s meant that the hotel’s elevators could open directly onto the corridors and not in a bulky, space-stealing enclosed lobby, letting them fit more rooms in their limited space. 

The M400 curtains deploy only when smoke is actively detected by a smoke detector or if the primary power is disrupted for several seconds. Plus, they can be connected to emergency power, so the hotel will never need to worry about deployment failure. 

In addition to code compliant manual egress, the units also feature screen rewind switches, making entry and exit from the elevators during a fire or smoke event fast, easy and safe. When deployed, the curtains are released from the ceiling above the elevators and connect magnetically to the metal rails on the outside of the elevator doors. They then follow along the length of the elevator until they reach the door, providing smoke-proof, tightly sealed protection, ensuring smoke cannot enter the elevator shaft and travel to other floors or areas of the hotel. 

The Final Result

Using Smoke Guard enabled designers to keep the layout the way they wanted it, optimizing space and maximizing occupant flow. It proved to be an easy solution.