Architecture That Encourages People to Take the Stairs

Building Incentive to Take the Stairs

It's certainly no secret that I'm a big fan of taking the stairs. And more and more, it seems that architects are becoming fans too. First, I heard about skip-stop elevators, which stop at every other floor with stairs filling in the gaps. Now, the latest issue of Metropolis magazine has a cool profile of designer Bruce Fowle, who focuses on
new ways to encourage stair-climbing through architecture.


Fowle believes that if you make stairways accessible and inviting — as opposed to gray, dark, and closed-off — people will be more apt to take them. For the new New York Times building, Fowle included centrally located fire stairs and bright-red open stairwells on the building's windowed corners.

For more on how Fowle makes buildings stair-friendly, read more

Though Fowle has employed a number of different tactics, all of his designs focus on getting people walking around and enjoying natural light. Not only can this keep employees healthier, but it also encourages them to interact more. From the Metropolis story:

Fowle has crafted sunlit staircases to be places where people will gravitate, both to circulate and to socialize. He envisions the stairs inside his buildings functioning the way the front stoop does in an urban neighborhood.

People will naturally choose stairs over elevators, the think­­­ing goes, if you locate them conveniently and treat them as avenues for spontaneous encounters.

It sure beats trudging up a cement stairway lit by fluorescent lights! What do you think: Would sunnier, more accessible stairwells encourage you to take the stairs more?

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