Stairing us in the face

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TakeTheStairs

There are lots of social engineering messages to get people to take the stairs instead of the elevator. I normally do this if I can, and agree that it is probably healthier (though the energy savings is small).

However, the state of our stairs is disrepair and disgrace. Many of our buildings were not designed for this new trend, and stairs seemed to be only intended for fire emergencies.

To wit, some pictures of my favorite staircases, which I use regularly at the University of Minnesota. Clearly no one has got the message that stairs should be at least as attractive as elevators, even if they are fire emergency stairs.

The first photo is a staircase at the Washington Avenue Parking Ramp (Garage for those outside the Midwest). It is at least painted, and has windows, but one would hardly call it nice. It functions not just as a transportation corridor for people, but also for drains, making it easy to service, like your utility room.

The second photo is from the same building, but a different staircase. Not even as attractive as the first. Without windows or natural light, not carpeted nor tiled, the walls painted with an undifferentiated institutional color.

The third photo is from the Civil Engineering building, this is a side entrance, not intended by the architects as anything but for service, yet it is the fastest way in and out of that highly circuitous building from the south and it gets a lot of traffic.

Compare this with your most recent elevator ride. If it was the CE building, it was admittedly equally decrepit, but the elevators there are under repair. In other buildings, the elevator is usually a much a nicer ride. Why?

If we want people to take the stairs, let's make the stairs just a little bit nicer.

David Levinson

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on January 28, 2013 5:26 PM.

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