Ferragamo Store Cascade Stairs

2001 | Venice ITALY

Client Salvatore Ferragamo Italia 
Architect Gabellini Associates 
Structural Engineer and Stair Designer Guy Nordenson and Associates
Consulting Structural Engineer Romeo Scarpa
Fabricator Metalarch

In collaboration with architect Michael Gabellini, Guy Nordenson and Associates designed a series of stairs for Ferragamo Stores stores in New York, Venice and Bologna. The most ambitious design was for the Venice store, which provided an opportunity to reinterpret Palladio's "cascade stair" at the nearby Accademia. The Ferragamo Venice stair has four runs of steps and three landings, and is constructed entirely of steel plate. The treads are machined and welded hollow, sharp-cornered steel tubes, each one 2 inches tall and 14 inches wide, and in this case each one floats independently, except for small solid blocks at the outer ends that connect the treads above and below and discreetly transfer the "cascade" of load. The central wall of the stair is a truss made of solid steel rectangular plates and is covered in a mail-like wire mesh. The truss diagonals align with the stair runs and have holes machined to receive the solid "pins" that project on the inside end of each tread. These pins were a 2-inch square section at the truss end and were machined to a 2-inch round section where they were welded to the ends of the box treads. The square ends of the pins lock each tread into the truss diagonal, resisting the twisting moment resulting from the load cascade.