Monumental stair design requires close collaboration between the architect and structural engineer to develop the envisioned showcase element of a building. This presentation highlights lessons learned from five recent Philadelphia projects with very different feature stairs. We will explain the primary structural challenges of monumental stairs and offer strategies the design team can employ to address those challenges.

The presentation will illustrate the varying structural challenges of steel monumental stairs from projects including the Museum of the American Revolution, 3675 Market St, the Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics, the Wharton Academic Research Building, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum.

These one-of-a-kind stairs each presented unique challenges for the design team, but their solutions all required close structural and architectural collaboration and creativity. We will overview the structural forms and load paths, structural loading requirements, effects of monumental stairs on the building structure, strategies to conceal and minimize structure, and opportunities to expose structure.

We will review the contractor’s and steel fabricator’s roles in the stair design and fabrication and provide examples of how the case study projects varied in the delegation of responsibility. Finally, we will discuss how these stairs are typically fabricated and installed, and how that may impact the architectural design.

Attendees should walk away from the presentation better equipped to collaborate with their structural consultants and contractors, and more aware of how structure can help achieve the architectural vision of a feature stair.
Who can attend
Anyone with the event link can attend
Dial-in available? (listen only)
Not available.
  • Understand the primary structural challenges presented by monumental stairs
  • Learn strategies for supporting these stairs while achieving the aesthetic vision
  • Understand how structural requirements affect the architectural design from conception through construction.
  • Identify the opportunities and constraints provided by several case studies and recognize how these projects outcomes inform prospective designs.

Hosted By AIA Philadelphia

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