The 1,000 Floor Elevator

The 1,000 Floor Elevator

If you’re a designer and you interview with Google for a job, you’ll be assessed based on your creativity and problem solving on the fly.

They’re known for asking design problems for you to solve in the interview.

Like the 1,000 Floor Elevator.

How would you design a 1,000 floor elevator?

The tallest building in the world right now has 163 above ground floors. So 1,000 floors is way outside of anything feasible currently.

But for the sake of the exercise, how would you design it? Think about it…

There have been a lot of fantastic answers to this problem. You can google some. Everything from the design of the floor to smell of the air in the hoisted box.

A lot of designers create a beautiful metal box that can hold 50 passengers with a TV, some nice ventilation, floor design, and more frills.

The problem is, the majority of people start trying to solve this problem before actually defining the problem.

For example:

  • What’s the purpose of the elevator?
  • Is it supposed to carry people? If so, how many?
  • How many stops is it supposed to have?
  • What if the sole purpose of the elevator was to take one person to the International Space Station? You would never know if you didn’t define the purpose from the start.

It’s hard to accomplish something great. But even a momentous task can be achieved when you and your team know the purpose. And then you break the task down into bite-sized pieces.

(photo via paul bica)