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It is used for all intents and purposes, an elevator, like ones found on earth, but blended with combine technology. It consists of a single pane of glass held by metal clamps. It does not appear to use a normal counterweight system for lift, however it is hard to tell. Almost all seem to have Combine Emitters that detect someone entering the elevator, although they do not seem to understand how to seperate human from Combine. Others, however, are operated by buttons.
Larger versions of this type of lift exist within larger areas of the Citadel, most notably the access lift which takes Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance down to the Cidadel's core. These are abnormal geometric shapes, which hover directly in midair. When activated, metal rings accordion upwards from the bottommost point, and summon the lift while red lights flash along the supports. As soon as a person enters that platform, a force field goes up, but does not protect against enemy fire, rather acting as a barrier to prevent passengers from falling off.