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Some stairs do more than get you up and down.

Some stairs do more than get you up and down

Here they provide storage, create display space,

bring in light ... even work as "sculpture"

When Fred and Ginger descend or ascend a staircase, architecture creates choreography: the climb becomes a dance.

But you don't need to be a dancer to see that stairs can do more than just get you from one level to another. These five examples, all in California, show how stairs can work as visually exciting sculpture. The stairs also function as storage walls, display spaces, or lightwell.

In small rooms, solid stair walls can seem constricting. At left, Berkeley architects Bice, Mathews, and Debbas kept the space beneath a pint-size staircase open for a sense of spaciousness.

Designer Jim Zack used a stairway as a dramatic room divider for his compact Victorian, above. Placed between living and dining rooms, the rectangular "stair tower" creates a focal point for both rooms without closing off either one. Walls hold built-in bookshelves and desk.

Bold shapes add drama

Palo Alto designer Richard Elmore gave a twist to the typical stairway by treating the banister as a curve that leads the eye upward (near right). Curves on walls and banister were formed against sill and floor plates made of three layers of 1/4-inch plywood.

To downplay her kitchen's small floor area and for upstairs privacy, Oakland architect Pamela Seifert designed her stairway ceiling as a visual diversion (top right). A grid of gypsum board over wood rises toward a skylight, filtering and bouncing sunlight.

In Huntington Beach, artist Reudor camouflaged his stairway by making it part of a mirrored dining room display wall (above). Three broad staggered platforms under the stair hold ceramics and glass art objects.
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Date:Oct 1, 1990
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