It is sad to find that in more and more public buildings the grand staircase is being replaced by escalators. These are utilitarian as they have to rise from one point to another in a straight line. The wonderful curves of Garnier's stair at the Paris Opera House, which takes up such a large area of the vestibule but forms the great meeting space, becomes an escalator in the London Opera House extension. While writing this book, I stayed at Tours where Jean Nouvel built a fine new Conference Centre. I felt there might be a wonderful new stair here - but no, the inevitable escalator was used. Stairs will continue to be used in houses where there is no space for an escalator.

In Les Gallery Lafayette one of the great stairs has been removed to provide more merchandising area.

Today, many of the interesting stairs are spiral or helical, but let us hope that this book may help to stimulate the desire to produce more interesting designs and for the designer to think hard and not just provide the simplest solution. Just think of the imagination of Piranesi.

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