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How Arden Tenders On A “One-Off” Staircase

From cantilevered domestic stairs to multi-floor commercial installations, the exception is the rule.

A staircase is not merely the intersection of risers, treads, and stringers: it is the end result of a collaboration between architects, fabricators, installers, and of course, clients. In Arden’s case, the task of bidding on unusually complex staircase designs falls to Larry Sandfort, a 24 year veteran in the industry.

“I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t interesting,” Larry says. He describes his morning’s work, which involves bidding on a cantilevered staircase of American Oak treads with a cantilevered glass balustrade. Larry must simultaneously transform the architect’s design into quantifiable terms while taking into account the schedules of the individual building contractors, all of whom can collect penalties if stages of the proposed work are not completed on time. Much of Larry’s work centers on gathering the appropriate information; in this case, the architect has neglected to include relevant engineering drawings. Larry’s afternoon will be spent emailing and making phone calls.

Arden’s extensive experience in creating innovative staircase installations on time and on budget is due to the work of people like Larry, whose comprehensive understanding of how projects come together enables him to bid with precision and authority. A few factors are given: the fleet of metal and timber shapers who populate Arden’s fabrication facility, can be relied upon to produce gorgeous, articulated curvature. But how does Larry account for the needs of contractors, especially in the domain of unique and challenging staircase designs?

“We like to develop really good relationships with the architects, and the builders. Also, I can either quote the job based on the exact detail they’ve sent me, or specify in the quote that there are certain issues with the specification to help them decide what direction they want to go in.”

Arden purposefully seeks out ‘one-off’ staircases, with their accompanying logistical puzzles and boundary-pushing aesthetics. Larry’s personal dream project? A curved timber mono-stringer staircase.

“From an engineering standpoint,” he explains dryly, “it would be quite a feat.”

Published on: 27-Aug-2010. Topic/s: Feature staircase design