Stairs: Where Landscape and Architecture Meet

Stairs: Where Landscape and Architecture Meet

The entry stair is the introduction to the story that your home or building tells. Paying the proper attention to this feature will help visitors to better understand your own personal narrative. The steps you ascend to reach the front porch or stoop may be seen as an obstacle by some, but we see them as an opportunity to create a meaningful connection between architecture and landscape. 

The design and execution of these steps should be a point of collaboration.  It is where the landscape architect can take their cue from the architecture, while integrating the texture and materiality of the landscape into the built form.

Allowing the paving surface to jump from the walk to the tread is an excellent way to provide that cohesive feel to the arrival experience. Treatment of the riser with tiles or other accent materials is another great way to add some character and a pop of color.  Appropriate detailing and material selection of hardscape elements throughout your garden (such as walls, paving, and steps) can reinforce the story that your home and garden tell.

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The importance of entry stair design goes beyond basic aesthetics and appearance.  The relationship of the tread width and riser height is critically important.  Stepping up onto a porch or entry stoop should feel smooth and natural.  Often designers defer to standard interior dimensions, which will provide a more abrupt experience that tends to create more of a barrier to entry than a pleasant transition. The dimensions and scale of the stairs helps to ground the structure and provide wayfinding cues to visitors.

At Marquis Latimer + Halback, Inc., we are advocates for an integrated design process which allows for collaboration between architecture, landscape architecture, and engineering.  When consultants work closely throughout all phases of the design and planning, elements such as the entry stairs can be appropriately sited and detailed.

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Elijah George is an associate at Marquis Latimer + Halback, Inc. Elijah is an advocate for the restorative power of nature and is passionate about designing landscapes that both enrich the human environment and the natural systems, which we depend on. He is a certified arborist, and has a bachelor degree in advertising and a masters degree in landscape architecture from the University of Florida.

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Marquis Latimer + Halback, Inc. | 34 Cordova Street, Suite A, St. Augustine, Florida 32084 | 904.825.6747