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Photos: Neil Landino

 

A harp, a guitar, or the inside of a piano? The curved ceiling soffit reinforces the reference. But which musical instrument this staircase may remind you of really doesn’t matter in the end. What’s impressive is how much more there is to it than meets the eye.

The stair treads are thick slabs of maple that appear to float. But they don’t: The treads are anchored by fasteners that are concealed in the wall (there’s actually a ½-inch gap in between tread and wall). The stair treads seem to be pierced by delicate stainless rods. But they’re not: The rods are aligned precisely above and below the treads, joined by couplings inside the stair tread. In order to avoid torquing over time, the treads consist of laminated boards, with the grain going in different directions. This staircase may look delicate, but it’s solid. “Those rods are actually carrying the stair,” says architect Mahdad Saniee. “Every element has a purpose,” he adds. “That’s the difficulty with modern details—there’s nothing to hide behind.”

The stair was designed to be a play between vertical versus horizontal, smooth versus textured, cold versus warm, thin versus thick. Overall, Saniee’s goal was to achieve a feeling of weightlessness. He typically strives for layers of visual information that get revealed over time, the longer a detail is lived with and examined. “I like it when people read between the lines,” he says.