Plasma cutting steel staircase Tung oil applied on trim woodwwork Floors milled from site grown trees Septic field restoration Reflecting afternoon sun Birth of a barn on Bragg Hill Radiant floors Solar panel installation Capping off the chimney Proud shape emerges on the hilltop Pumping concrete into the three gables Forming 12x12 Gables Delivering concrete from the sky Parallam beam positioning Flying flitch beam ICF window framing Precision concrete placement Lower level ICF fabrication Newly excavated driveway Finishing garage deck concrete Pouring concrete footers Rebar safety caps Surveying the construction site Checking out the excavation equipment Rapid soil stabilization Testing the soils for drainage Taking Solar Pathfinder measurements Milling downed trees onsite View to the Southeast over the Benzel Family Trust Future meadow to be cultivated Taking a stroll on Bragg Hill Road

Stairs of Steel

click image to enlarge
click image to enlarge

After a year of planning and design, the fabrication of our “floating” stairway went into production.  The hand made steel and oak stair structure was designed to be the predominant element seated within the glass and steel solar chimney that is at the core of the barn.  The open tread design will facilitate the natural convection of air currents through the stair chamber and out the cupola, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  The aesthetic design of the staircase pays homage to the surrounding landscape enhancing natural light and the woodland views in the profile view upon entering the home.  The oak treads were milled from the same old oak tree used for the stairway timberframes.

The custom steel work was performed by a dedicated team of engineers and craftsmen at O’Rourke & Sons, a West Chester based fabrication company.  The stringers, landings, treads and anchor plates were made from a combination of 1/4 inch steel plate and 12x6 inch tube steel.  Architect Matthew Moger’s design was rendered on an SDS computer system by Brian Feick where it was aligned, balanced and pre-stressed and virtually tested for structural integrity.  The digital measuremnts were then loaded into a computer guided plasma burning table where the riser plates were precision cut.  O’Rourke’s Steve Tuel carefully formed the flat treads into is final shape and then precision welded it to the stringer spines.  The entire staircase contains 4 “floating” stringers two mid-story landing platforms and thirty-three riser plates.

See additional photos of the O’Rourke fabrication process
Watch a video clip of the staircase SDS 3D computer rendering
Review the original architect’s staircase concept renderings

Steve Tuel precision forming one of the 33 staircase risers