DESIGN ELEMENTS: THE STAIRCASE
Ascension is an art. One of architecture’s most complex elements, a perfect staircase combines beauty and ease. For JLF, staircases also often encapsulate the team’s ability to use historical salvaged materials in fresh and contemporary ways, combining the earthy, grounded rustic appeal of timber and stone with sleek steel and ethereal glass.
The strong diagonal of the Jackson Hole Forest Edge house’s staircase, shown above and below, is perfectly framed by the two-story industrial-style steel-and-glass window. Glass balustrades provide additional transparency, allowing an intimate experience with surrounding nature while revealing the hand-chosen reclaimed-wood piers, stringers and risers in powerful relief.
In a long view down the hall, the Forest Edge statement stair provides sculptural drama as well as all-important function. And a closeup of post and railing shows the seemingly seamless interplay between sinuous curves of steel and character-laden antique timber.
For stairways in two Montana houses, glass balustrades again erase boundaries between indoors and out. The clean-lined staircase on the left effortlessly connects three levels of the house with the crisp black-and-white contrast of bleached fir and raw steel. On the right, open risers emphasize the strong horizontals of planed oak foundry floor wood treads, providing a meaningful regional connection to a strikingly contemporary design.
When our clients asked us if we could do “something crazy” and make a glass staircase in this Indian Springs Jackson Hole house, above, we saw the opportunity to step up and do something completely new. Our design solution made the bespoke stairway quite literally the highlight of the house, spanning three stories as a set of skylights above shines light all the way through to the lower level. Supported by steel, each step features three layers of glass, the top layer textured to avoid slip. And the glass-to-steel connectors were custom-designed by JLF Architects’ Travis Growney.
From subtle to stand-out, every set of stairs must balance engineering and artistry – and as with every other element of JLF architecture, painstakingly executed detail is king.