You can imagine the cocktail parties and vibrant life that existed in this space throughout the decades. The exposed brick walls radiate warmth into the room and are reminiscent of old fire engine stations. Ornate ceiling tiles remind us of the craftsmanship emblematic of the time. The wooden beams have an age all their own and are at once both industrial and rustic. With this history in mind, we designed this law office’s modern staircase not to obscure the past, but to enhance the space’s nod to its 1950’s origins.

The owners needed a stairway that reinforced their open-concept office space. At the same time, they needed a staircase that could handle their high ceilings and industrial brick walls. The switchback floating stairs configuration ended up being exactly what they needed. With such a high elevation, a straight stair would have created commercial code concerns and stretched the length of the room. A 90° Turn would have encroached on their seating area and left the middle of the room with an odd empty space. Instead, our team of expert designers and engineers employed a switchback design to complement the already gorgeous space.

The design of this switchback now allows the building to take full advantage of its space. The sheer height of the stringers achieved using this configuration gives elevated lines to space, drawing the eyes upward to the antique tiled ceiling and workspaces above. The steel support columns against the brick wall supplement the stairs’ safety while accenting the brick walls perfectly.

An important reason why the Switchback configuration was chosen for this space is that the stair itself acts as a divider between the kitchen and seating area. It is strategically used as a partial divider—allowing light and air to pass through while keeping the design’s continuity. Instead of a wall segmenting these two spaces, the open-concept design flourished and the views of the entire room were preserved.

A staircase doesn’t have to simply be a utility that gets you from one floor to the next. When placed in the hands of experts, it can become a seamless part of a project’s design, function, and history. Using a modern design doesn’t necessarily mean throwing away history and forgetting the past—modern design can be used to supplement a project’s history and show you a new way of looking at the past. We thrive on our ability to enhance spaces like this and create beautiful and structurally sound pieces. This is what separates our great from others’ good.

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