From a design standpoint, these new buttonless elevators in populated metro areas are great. Enter in the floor you want, and the central computer aggregates adjacent floors so people get where they're going faster. The problem comes when people get on board, change their minds, and freak due to a lack of control. And unlike S&M, there's no safe-word here.
Most people catch on pretty quickly. Just a month after the Hearst Tower opened, some Hearst executives said they were forgetting to push buttons in old-fashioned elevators. "My problem has become that I keep forgetting to press buttons in the elevator in my apartment building, so as I tap tap tap on my BlackBerry, I realize minutes later that the elevator hasn't moved," says Atoosa Rubenstein, the departing editor in chief of Hearst's Seventeen magazine.
Besides being confusing to old people, the elevators cut wait time from 60 to 90 seconds down to 20 to 25 seconds in a busy hotel.