suckerPUNCH: describe your project.
caliper STUDIO: the genetic stair is the centerpiece of a three thousand square foot duplex apartment renovation in a mckim mead & white landmarked building on new york’s upper west side. the architectural strategy for the renovation removed all existing vertical circulation and connected the two floors with a new feature stair, located centrally in the apartment, free from all walls and supported only at the top and bottom. the clients, two art collectors with a keen interest in supporting emerging artists and designers, engaged and supported caliper studio’s experimental research-focused design process.
photos: ty cole
sP: what or who influenced this project?
cS: the inspiration for this project came from the way many natural systems and organisms embody forces in a clear, yet intricate way. the wing of a dragon fly or the roots of a banyan tree come to mind. the goal then was to develop a computational process that would evolve a structural system to distribute forces in a way that was legible without being didactic.
sP: what were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
cS: visitors to caliper studio’s williamsburg office are usually struck by the silence of our informal workspace. the genesis of the stair coincided with the gestation of my first child, so my interior monologue was inevitably cluttered. our fabrication shop is usually more lively and the management of the playlist is a rare example of real democracy in action. a typical day of welding and grinding could as easily be accompanied by the magnetic fields or wolf parade as céline dion.
sP: whose work is currently on your radar?
cS: our shelves at caliper studio are dominated by the likes of mid-century french engineer jean prouvé, whose integration of design and fabrication with the advanced technology of his time still inspires. our friends ben and chris at aranda\lasch are always on our radar as is the work of one of my strongest early influences cecil balmond.
design, detailing, fabrication and installation: caliper studio
structrural engineering: gms