Escalators lifts and stairs in major spaces for retail and related buildings

The nineteenth-century department store and the great exhibition halls of that period are the twin sources for a whole range of building types. The main stair provided the great exhibition space around which the display area was designed. Perhaps the greatest of these was Les Galeries Lafayette, Paris, in the 1900s (Figure 2.28), but fashion and commercialism took away the stairs leaving only the galleries with their Art Nouveau balustrading

Figure 3 9a The Economist Building: Original Core, 1964, Architects: Alison and Peter Smithson in association with Maurice Bebb

Figure 3 9b The Economist Building: Reconstructed core, 1990, Architects: SOM

designed by Louis Majorelle. The work by Hector Guimard in the same style has been better preserved at many of the entrance stairs to the Paris Metro (Figure 3.14).

Similarly, the lifts at Selfridges, London, were very elaborate and formed a great feature of the store (Figure 11.5 e) but now, although lifts still exist with modern lift doors, three new banks of escalators provide customers with easy vertical movement through the five floors. The

Figure 310a Portman-designed hotels: Renaissance Center, Detroit, 1977. General view of multi-storey mall below hotel towers logic is that if customers can see the various merchandise as they move up or down they may be tempted to get off and purchase. This is not possible within an enclosed lift.

The galleried stairhall or atrium of the Electricity Board, Prague, was completed in 1935, designed by Adolf Bens and Josef Kriz (Figure 3.15). The construction is reinforced concrete with a top-lit roof formed by glass blocks set in concrete ribs. The triple return flight is lit dramatically from the landing windows and forms a complete composition to the end wall. Lift clusters are placed in lobbies left and right of the main hall.

Hyatt Regency Detroit
Figure 310b Portman-designed hotels: Hyatt Regency, Detroit, 1970s. Wall-climber lifts playing a dramatic role within heavily shaped structure

In Britain the first taste of pre-war modernism in store interiors can be seen with the freely arranged floors and sweeping escalators within the John Lewis Store, Oxford Street, of 1939.4

Today's store or shopping mall deploys escalators, lifts and stairs as 'accommodation' routes to the key levels within the cavernous interiors. Ideally the public should be able to explore the sequence of spaces in a logical manner (Figures 3.16a and 3.16b). The illustrations reveal the enticing way escalators or linkways are placed as nodes within a shopping mall to attract movement between floors. A logical flow both inwards and outwards from stores will be endorsed by the fire brigade but thought to be less important by many shopkeepers. Their brief 'to entice the public in' is often more important than finding a convenient circulation back to the shop entrance. An exemplary case for clarity of movement via escalators

Figure 311b Central Lifts, Hilton Hotel, London: Key plan

Figure 311a Central Lifts, Hilton Hotel, London Airport, 1990, Architects: Michael Manser Associates (courtesy of Michael Bryant)

Figure 311b Central Lifts, Hilton Hotel, London: Key plan is the John Lewis Store in Kingston-upon-Thames. The naturally lit space is bridged by an elegant array of moving stairs from floor to floor. Graphics exist hardly at all as they are not needed within the sales areas other than to locate fire escapes (Figure 3.17). The success of the store has meant that extra escalators have

Figure 313 Remodelled stairs and hall, The Lanesborough Hotel, Hyde Park Corner, 1992, London, Architects: Fitzroy Robinson (slide from the hotel)

Figure 312 Grand staircase, Ritz Hotel, London, 1905, Architects: Mews and Davis

Figure 313 Remodelled stairs and hall, The Lanesborough Hotel, Hyde Park Corner, 1992, London, Architects: Fitzroy Robinson (slide from the hotel)

Figure 3.14 Forms emulating lily leaves and tendrils, entry to the Metro, Paris, 1900, Architect: Hector Guimard

Figure 316a Covered malls: Shopping mall, Malmo, 1960s (designer unknown)

Figure 315 Pre-eminence of stairs, Electricity Board offices and showrooms, Prague, 1935, Architects: Adolf Bens and Josef Kriz

Figure 316b Covered malls: Node locations with well-placed stairs and linkways, Georgetown Mall, Washington, DC, 1980s (designer unknown)


Figure 317 Interior of John Lewis Store, Kingston-upon-Thames, 1990, Architects: Ahrends Burton and Koralek (courtesy of Chris Gascoigne)

been added parallel to the existing to improve circulation.

The use of mechanical means of movement has transformed retailing design into a vertical pattern of developments, with banks of lifts and stairs set out as the key viewing point for the store interior. The concept has been transferred to multiple use buildings that might embrace hotels, offices and shops within a vertical atrium. Water Tower Place, Chicago, has the drama of escalators rising directly from the street plus glazed lifts that serve the multi-storey mall. The elevated moving stairs and exciting lifts create a new art form (Figures 3.18a and 3.18b). The success rests upon the innate curiosity of people to ascend and move to brighter elements in the interior. Vertigo is combated by tinted glass balustrades, ledges and high-level handrailing.

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