Residents stuck in Brottier elevators

Megan Klinefelter | Staff Photographer
Brottier elevators are up and running after breaking down on Sunday, Sept. 9.
Megan Klinefelter | Staff Photographer
Brottier elevators are up and running after breaking down on Sunday, Sept. 9.

Gabriella DiPietro | News Editor


Elevators can be useful – almost essential – when buildings have numerous floors and endless staircases, but in order to utilize their convenience, they have to actually work.

Shortly after 9 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 3, one of the three elevators in Brottier Hall, an apartment-style residence hall on Duquesne University’s campus, broke down, trapping seven residents inside for roughly 40 minutes.

In May, Brottier Hall was acquired by Radnor Property Group (Radnor) and Harrison Street Real Estate Capital (Harrison Street). The building’s operations have been managed by Capstone On-Campus Management since Aug. 1, as a result of a partnership formed between the university, Radnor and Harrison Street.

Upon the elevator malfunction, the resident assistant on duty contacted Capstone On-Campus Management, which alerted Otis Elevator Company, Duquesne police, the on-call resident director and Brottier maintenance, according to Greg Lucsko, director of operations for Brottier.

One of the students stuck in the elevator was junior business student Dan Smolsky, who was taking the elevator to access the building’s laundry room.

According to Smolsky, who has lived in the building since May, the elevators have always been slow and inconsistent but started going offline around the time students moved in for the start of the semester three weeks ago.

“The way the building managers handled my situation of being trapped was incredibly discomforting as they didn’t seem to make it a priority,” said Smolsky. “The new company in charge of the building needs to address the elevator situation – all three have been off-line at least once since we started school – and ensure the machines aren’t outdated or faulty. They need to simply listen to student complaints and maintenance reports in the building. Their top priority should be making sure students feel comfortable and safe.”

Lucsko, on behalf of Capstone On-Campus Management, shared that the building’s elevators are not malfunctioning any more than they have in previous years.

“There is no prevalent issue with the elevators,”said Lucsko. “Students are reminded, as always, to be mindful of capacity limits that are posted in each elevator.”

The elevator breakdown occurred at the same time another elevator was offline because over the Labor Day weekend, an Otis Elevator Company technician incorrectly assessed that the motor needed to be replaced, according to Lucsko. A follow-up technician realized the offline elevator’s problem actually stemmed from overheated oil, not the motor.

According to Otis Elevator Company, the recent elevator problems have been due to increased number of people and frequency of use and people manually holding the elevator door open for an extended period of time, resulting in the elevator door malfunctioning.

Since the acquisition, Brottier has been undergoing some renovations, starting with its lobby. These lobby renovations should be wrapping up in the next week, according to Lucsko. Room renovations are planned to occur each summer through 2021.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think the new ownership cares as much about the students as they care about finishing the lobby renovations,” said Smolsky. “I know multiple residents who have had mold, broken doors and just plain dirty living conditions that weren’t handled as quickly as they should have been.”

Capstone On-Campus Management assures students that the broken-down elevator was back up and running within a few minutes and is now operating properly.