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Engineering legacy of 9/11 found in Uptown Charlotte skyscraper

Bank of America Tower's elevators are specially-designed to evacuate people in case of a fire.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In the 20 years since the 9/11 attacks, engineers have re-designed elevators to be able to quickly evacuate skyscrapers in case of a fire.

The new Bank of America Tower in Uptown Charlotte is one of only a few skyscrapers in the world to contain a part of that 9/11 engineering legacy: Occupant Evacuation Operation (OEO) elevators, designed by Schindler Elevator.

If there's a fire, office workers will gather in a designated "fire floor," which is heavily fire-proofed. Elevators will then quickly bring people down to evacuate the building while firefighters can ride up the location of the emergency.

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The elevator shafts are fire-proofed, and the cabs have backup generator power in case of an outage.

Curtis Slezak, Schindler Elevator's account manager for the Bank of America Tower, said 9/11 pushed the company to make changes to elevator design.

"It really got us to look at passenger safety and occupant safety," Slezak said. "It kind of goes against conventional thinking, which is when a fire alarm goes off, take the stairs. But once passengers realize it, they will realize the improved safety and the improved building flow to safety."

Click here for WCNC's Charlotte full coverage of Remembering 9/11: United 20 years later 

Charlotte Fire Department Captain Jackie Gilmore said he's heard positive comments about the system from firefighters who respond to the building.

He said the system will allow firefighters to more quickly perform critical tasks.

"I think Charlotte is very fortunate to have one [of these systems] in the city," Capt. Gilmore said. "I would like to see more of these elevators developed."

Contact Brandon Golder at bgoldner@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.