The Climb: An Investigation into the Most Efficient Way to Get Up the Richardson Building

The Climb: An Investigation into the Most Efficient Way to Get Up the Richardson Building

The Richardson Building is one of Otago’s most iconic pieces of architecture. It is obscenely tall and radiates an obnoxious amount of big dick energy. However, it’s also one of the most challenging, harrowing and exhausting buildings to climb up. Getting to class in Richardson is similar to a night in the Octy. It’s sweaty, pushy, anxiety inducing and probably not worth the wait. There has been plenty of debate over the most time efficient way to get to the top of the Richardson Building, whether it be the perilous stairs or the crowded elevator. So I decided it was time to settle this argument once and for all. 

The experiment went as follows: Over a two day period, being Tuesday and Wednesday, I went to Richardson at different times and stopped at different floors. The times were 9:50am for the early morning lecture rush, 11:50am for those inconvenient midday lectures and finally the 3:50pm rush, for the home stretch. Each time, across each day, I went between the stairs and the elevator. I would stop at floor five for a mid-way pit stop, floor seven (aka the Law Faculty) to remind myself how inferior I am, and ten, to really conquer the motherfucker. The clock began the second I set foot in the foyer of the ground floor, so if these times seem odd, that’s due to the lines and wait times. 

Yes, I looked like an idiot. Yes, it was physically exhausting. Yes, I definitely tripped up the stairs. Nonetheless, I survived, and I am here to bring you the answer you’ve all been waiting for. The outcome? Truly shocking. My data collection? Also truly shocking. 



It is common belief that elevators are more time efficient than stairs given the fact that they do all the moving. There’s no need to stop to take a breath or have a chat with a friend you just ran into. Once you’re in the elevator, it’s speedy. So it’s only the queue itself that takes a minute. 

11:50am on a Tuesday seemed busy, but not busy enough that it made me worry I’d be the loser walking into class late. I only had to wait one elevator cycle to weasel my way into one. The metal coffin itself was a squeeze of well-dressed Law students, Geography breathas, and the obligatory Law lecturer. We made it to the fifth floor in 0:41. I glanced over at the lecturer and began thinking about the time I cried in the LAWS101 exam. My mind started going to some dark places. Thankfully, before tears emerged, we arrived on the seventh floor at 1 minute and 3 seconds. Him and the rest of the Law kids exited the elevator. I began to wonder what it was like to be part of something like that. The doors shut, my dreams, shattered. After a few more stops, hold ups and awkward smiles, I arrived at tenth floor, all on my lonesome. A total travel time of 1 minute and 19 seconds. I accepted defeat, and made my way back down to the ground floor. 

9:50am on a Wednesday, on the other hand, is exactly what I imagine the line to Suburbia on Health Sci Friday would be. The wait? Astronomical. I could have finished my entire degree in the time it took me to even set foot in the elevator. After waiting four whole cycles, I finally squeezed my way in. To make my luck worse, I ended up in the elevator that broke down last year. Anxiety? Through the roof. I prepared my will in my head as we soared up into the sky. It took a whopping 2 minutes and 13 seconds to get to the fifth floor, and 2:38 when we reached the seventh floor. I finally reached the top and set foot on solid ground again. The total journey time was 3 minutes and 12 seconds of pure hell. The 11:50am rush on a Wednesday was a similar deal, with the total travel time equalling 2 minutes and 39 seconds. 

3:50pm was the smoothest journey. There were very few afternoon dwellers who joined me and the travel time was a mere 1 minute and 4 seconds overall. 



If you are someone who usually takes the stairs of the Richardson Building, you are God’s gift to society. You are unstoppable. People worship the ground you walk on. They wish they could be you. You have lungs of steel, unbeatable stamina and are also probably thicc af. 

I’ll start off by saying there was an insignificant difference in times between the stairs and elevator. But if you had to pick a side, pick team stairs. From my highly credible scientific analysis, I believe this is because taking the stairs means you have more control over your surroundings. There is no waiting in lines, having to squish yourself amongst strangers, press germ ridden buttons or having to wait for people to stop on and off in order to reach your destination. The only people you encounter up the stairs are those who are just as elite as you. People with no time to lose. Places to be, people to meet. The grind and hustle is alive and well. Yeah sure, you might get a bit sweaty, a bit puffed, a bit red in the face. But you know what that shows? Strength and determination. 

On Tuesday morning, I stood in the foyer, bracing myself and my knee caps for the journey ahead. I channelled my inner Miley Cyrus. This was what she meant when she sang ‘The Climb’. I put my best foot forward, and away I went. 

The first five flights of stairs were a kick up the ass. There was little to moderate foot traffic, but as I stated earlier, only the elite take the stairs. The agile ability of the stair dwellers means that movements are swift, and there is no need to stop and wait. Slightly out of breath, but nonetheless successful, I made it to the fifth floor without passing out. A solid 1 minute and 17 seconds when walking at an average, but assertive speed. I continued the journey to the seventh floor, the cackles and cries of Law students echoing above me. I arrived at 1 minute and 54 seconds. I decided not to stick around for too long for fear of looking like a lost fresher, so I continued my hustle. My calves were definitely feeling weak, but I was feeling empowered. Finally, I reached the tenth floor. A total travel time of 2 minutes and 51 seconds. Not sure about you, but that’s some world record shit right there.


Analysis and Conclusion

TLDR: Take the stairs

From the few samples I have, the elevator is, on average, the fastest way to get up the building. However, there are far too many variables which could present themselves depending on the circumstances. How long is the line? How many people can comfortably fit within the elevator? How many cycles will I have to wait through? There’s a psychological element to it as well - how many people will make the cut? Do I want to look like the submissive weakling who goes to enter the elevator, but gets kicked out due to space? Do I want to be the piece of shit who makes sure the door closes before anyone else can get in? 

Not only this, but elevators are, by nature, riskier than stairs. You’re being held up by wires and shit, and the Richardson Building’s elevators feel slow and lagging, which creates a lot of unnecessary tension.

The time difference between elevators and stairs is only 3 to 11 seconds. But can you put a timer on the importance of fitness? You get a workout in, you can get thicc, maintain your toned legs and get that heart rate up. Not only this but you have more control. 

Don’t be a victim of your own environment, channel your inner Bear Grylls. Improvise, adapt, overcome. Don’t go through life waiting for the doors to open along with the masses, take matters into your own goddamn hands. Chase those dreams, pave your own way in this dog eat dog world. Take the stairs. 

So there you have it. The question has been answered, the rumours laid to rest. The most effective way to get up the Richardson Building is the stairs. Although, on the other hand, there is always the option of just not going to class. 

This article first appeared in Issue 13, 2020.
Posted 10:19pm Thursday 30th July 2020 by Annabelle Vaughan.