Oscar Tusquets Blanca et al.
The Vendome Press, New York, 2013, English
Nonfiction, Architecture
13.2 x 10 inches, hardcover, 240 pages, 236 color and black-and-white illustrations
ISBN: 9780865653092
Suggested Retail Price: $75.00

From the Publisher. The essential purpose of a staircase is utilitarian: to facilitate ascent and descent. Yet the design of even the simplest stair is complex, requiring great knowledge, skill, and ingenuity. This volume showcases the astonishing diversity of staircases over the centuries, from the stepped pyramids of the Maya to the exquisitely proportioned stairs of the Renaissance, to the elaborate balustraded confections of the Baroque period, to the virtuosic, computer-aided designs of today

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Norman Weinstein

Designing an outstanding staircase is not a challenge for the faint of heart. It is a daunting feat, since any notable staircase design is an exercise in matching the utilitarian need to traverse building levels with a designer’s wish to invent an individualistic artistic statement, a memorable monument evoking straightforward or curvilinear “poetry in motion.”

In this stunning coffee table book, a team of erudite European writers and world-class photographers offers an affectionate tribute to grand staircases. Their spotlight lingers upon the most monumentally grandiose staircases found in European palaces and other structures associated with the rich and famous from the Renaissance to the 19th century. Generously, the book offers an expansive (if concise) global survey of staircases pre-Renaissance, including examples of stairs (designs without guard rails and defining enclosed spaces) rather than strictly staircases. And a closing chapter on contemporary staircases includes I.M. Pei’s luminously futuristic staircase at the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar and Norman Foster’s swirling City Hall for the Greater London Authority emanating vertiginous grandeur. Oddly, many of the most groundbreaking examples of modern staircases are omitted—think of Peter Eisenman’s inverted and column-interrupted staircases and that surreal vernacular stair complex in Mexico, Las Pozas, created by Edward James. But what this book does with considerable charm and visual flair is offer a mesmerizing meditation upon the richness of luxurious detail in inventive European staircase design, raising staircases from a necessary building element to a major gateway catalyzing movement into architectural experiences of a rare order.

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