The Modern Stairway

Stairs can be much more than a way up or down; modern design has broken away from the old closed staircase lined with portraits of deceased relatives. They now are a major architectural highlight within a home design, affecting sightlines and views, creating drama, and contributing to the overall lightness and floating quality of a house. From Marc’s point of view – they also must be beautiful. This highly crafted feature of his work is one of the most complex elements in the construction. All trades meet at the stairs; engineers, steel, glass, finish carpenters, and more, all to be successfully coordinated by the architect and project manager within this relatively small area of square footage.

Innovative stair design is confined not only by space and the needs of the client, but by strict building and safety codes. Some of the wow inducing stairs seen on Pinterest are probably not in legal use in actual homes, or are digital-only designs.

The walnut stairs designed for our Summit House (photo top left) are contained in a glass volume that serves as an anchoring architectural focal point. Halfway up, (2nd photo) the broad landing overlooks the entire living area. These “floating” stairs usually have no risers, which allows more light to encompass the area; the weightless effect is also achieved using safety banisters of thick shatterproof glass. A single or double steel support beam runs underneath.

In our Walker Road design (photos 3nd and 4rd at left) the central volume is filled by the solid walnut staircase, steel supports, no risers, and glass panels make for a light filled space accenting the beauty of the stairway and the wood. 

The Laurel Way stairs (5th and 6th photos) exhibit the cantilever - each tread is anchored deep into one wall. The spiral staircase was designed for the guest wing's private entrance.  From our Cordell House, (last photo) the close-up shows the hardware on the all glass and steel cantilevered design there.

So, within the laws of physics (and your County) there are creative opportunities in both design and materials for the evolution of the ancient method of ascension, the stair.