Now that New York Times staffers are all settled in their fancy new building with the indoor arboretum and the finicky windowpanes, we wondered what the company might be doing to impress upon employees that their comforts and convenience remain priorities. As it turns out, the Times HR department wants everyone to know they're still listening. "We recently implemented some changes to better suit the needs of our employees," reads today's in-houseTimes newsletter [PDF link]. For instance! Bike racks are promised! Name plate holders for the copy desk too! Also, in the interest of convenience, staircases are now numbered "on the inside railing on each staircase—now when walking between floors you can easily know your location." Pardon us for saying so, but aren't well-marked means of egress, you know, prerequisites to passing city building and fire codes? We decided to poke around in the code to find out, and hey, how about that! They totally are.
According to Article 9 of the city's building code (section [C26-608.3] 27-392 to be exact and yes, looking at that number makes our head hurt too), which is available on the mayor's website, "Floor numbering signs" are indeed kind of important! Any office building with either one elevator or more than 500 people (that's you, fancy New York Times building!) must have signs that "shall be posted and maintained within each stair enclosure on every floor, indicating the number of the floor." Emphasis ours, so on and so forth.
The Times, along with the new Hearst building and some 300 other Manhattan buildings, has "smart elevator" technology. You can read all about how it works in a generally favorable 2005 piece the Times did—and more on it today, as well, less happily.
With smart elevator systems, riders choose their destination first on a lobby panel outside and are then directed into the appropriate elevator—which, as Curbed noticed this summer, don't contain any buttons at all.
As far as we can tell, "smart" elevators sure don't break any building codes and last time we checked we weren't professional architects or building inspectors, but still. Considering the fallibility of anything that runs on a computer, we would assume clearly marking the brick-and-mortar stairwells used in case of emergency would have been done six months before staffers at the Times were moved into their new headquarters, not six months after. Even if the building's signage is kosher, would you relish working in a building where you're forced to take the word of management and your elevator that you're on the 10th floor?