Why no stairs in office buildings?
April 29, 2005 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Why are there frequently no non-emergency stairs in office buildings? Is it so unheard of that one would want to take the stairs, and not the elevator, from the first to the second floor?
posted by kenko to Travel & Transportation (28 answers total)
 
I've always figured it was for security reasons. Someone walking down the stairs with a stolen laptop is less likely to be seen than someone riding the elevator.
posted by bondcliff at 1:07 PM on April 29, 2005


Short answer: Cost.

Long answer: cost. Elevators are a requirement in this multi-storied, accessible building age. Elevators are expensive and so are stairs -- they also do not generate rent.

The side bar on this is why are fire stairs often not used as stairs to simply travel between floors? Location, fire protection, security and generally down-right unpleasantness. Still, I have seen a few buildings where fire stairs can be used to travel between floors but the cases are rare.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:11 PM on April 29, 2005


Short answer: Cost.

Long answer: cost. Elevators are a requirement in this multi-storied, accessible building age. Elevators are expensive and so are stairs -- they also do not generate rent.

The side bar on this is why are fire stairs often not used as stairs to simply travel between floors? Location, fire protection measures which affect their general usability, security and generally down-right unpleasantness. Still, I have seen a few buildings where fire stairs can be used to travel between floors but the cases are rare.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:12 PM on April 29, 2005


because generally when the buildings are built, they have no idea how the floor space will be apportioned, so interior stairwells are not included in the floorplans, lest it limit how the space can be leased. additionally, tenants change over time and the space gets combined and divided so much over the years, that it's not practical to have interior staircases.

i hate it, myself, almost as much as i hate people who stand on escalators, but it's the rare company in a high-rise that has open staircases between the floors it occupies.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:12 PM on April 29, 2005


Oops. Sorry for the double. I saw it coming when trying to add one more item.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:12 PM on April 29, 2005


hate it, myself, almost as much as i hate people who stand on escalators

Eh?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:16 PM on April 29, 2005


It's pretty common for tenants who take out multiple floors in Class "A" buildings in New York to build staircases between their floors as part of their tenant build out. The staircases are demolished when the tenant vacates, as they reduce the entire floors right back to empty space.
posted by MattD at 1:19 PM on April 29, 2005


hate it, myself, almost as much as i hate people who stand on escalators

That drives me crazy, too. It's like they think it's a ride or something. Especially when multiple people stand on one step and block the way.
posted by Turd Ferguson at 1:20 PM on April 29, 2005


They mean don't walk up the elscalator as if it was a regular set of stairs five fresh fish.
posted by Mitheral at 1:23 PM on April 29, 2005


yes, precisely. sorry, i meant the having to use the elevator to go up/down one/two floors occupied by the same company in a high-rise drives me about as mad as does having to stand on an escalator because there's no flight of steps and everyone else on the escalator is standing all spread out so you can't walk past them.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:26 PM on April 29, 2005


Isn't that what escalators are for? So you don't have to use your leg muscles? It must make you insane when you see people standing on a moving sidewalk, like in an airport. Stand right, walk left!
posted by fixedgear at 1:31 PM on April 29, 2005


I love the way people will, when confronted with a staircase and an escalator, cram the escalator so you can't walk up it, while the staircase is totally unoccupied.
posted by kenko at 1:33 PM on April 29, 2005


Why not just take the "Emergency" stiars? Most of the time even though they're labelled as such doesn't necessarily mean that they're alarmed (unless you're in a secure building.)

The only problem with doing such is lots of times the ground floor door isn't openable from the outside.
posted by FearTormento at 1:38 PM on April 29, 2005


I love the way people will, when confronted with a staircase and an escalator, cram the escalator so you can't walk up it, while the staircase is totally unoccupied.

Well duh. If they wanted to walk up stairs, they'd use the staircase!
posted by kindall at 1:38 PM on April 29, 2005


Sorry to further derail:

"The other people I hate are the people that get onto the escalator and then just stand there Like it's a ride. 'Excuse me, there's no animated pirates or bears along the way here Do your legs work at all?'" Bonus points for anyone that gets the reference, even if it's been modified a tad.

As for those with the hate-on for escalator riders I have a suggestion. Walk right up to the obstruction and say "Excuse me". Then wedge yourself past them. You'd be amazed how well this works most of the time.
posted by cm at 1:39 PM on April 29, 2005


Well duh. If they wanted to walk up stairs, they'd use the staircase!

At some level I understand that it's not how long it takes to get to the next floor but the manner in which you get there, and that it's easier to stand and not walk, but that level is buried pretty deep.
posted by kenko at 2:00 PM on April 29, 2005


I believe open staircases (those not secured by fire doors) are considered hazardous, as they allow fire to spread more quickly from floor to floor. Of course, that doesn't speak to why so many buildings have their emergency stairs locked so you can't use them to get anywhere other than all the way out.
posted by expialidocious at 2:04 PM on April 29, 2005


cm, isn't it in a seinfeld monologue?
posted by gaspode at 2:05 PM on April 29, 2005


Most owners would rather give precious floor space over to program (offices, labs, whatever) than stairs. Also stairs can be expensive to construct - particularly public stairs which may need to be nicely finished.
posted by dublinemma at 2:08 PM on April 29, 2005


I've noticed that most office buildings have the stairwells that only open on certain floors. I wonder if they realize how many people prop the doors open to use the stairways. I seem to remember from Fire Safety training that the reasoning is that in an emergency the stairwells become a vacuum of sorts. It does seem to me that it doesn't contradict that to allow access from each floor.

Speaking for those who do stand on escalators, I do so because of a precarious sense of balance. I fall down for seemingly no reason so, walking on a moving thing = falling down in a unintentionally funny way. I much prefer stairs, but I don't move when I do take the escalator.
posted by renyoj at 2:14 PM on April 29, 2005


Another (minor) factor: large office buildings will at times have unleased floors. To keep people out, the elevator won't stop at those floors. If you could use the stairs to get into floors, they would have to secure the appropriate stair doors for those floors as well. This would be a PITA.
posted by smackfu at 2:16 PM on April 29, 2005


Up until 6 months ago, I had never worked for a big corporation. I dreaded seeing my possible future building on the way to my first interview. It was in the dreaded San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, after all. Home of big, generic business buildings.

I pulled into the gigantic sea of a parking lot and saw the large, wide, three story buildings ahead. It looked depressing. The buildings are officially three stories tall, but because they are built on hills, you walk in on the 2nd floor. I was sure that they would only have elevators anyway.

I was pleased to see big, wide stairways filled with people using them. It was refreshing.

It still is. Being an IT guy, I get to walk around a lot. I see everybody, every day. Most of my co-workers at this home loan company are dull, totally lumpy fat-asses that spend their whole day shoveling cake and chocolates into their mouths and washing it all down with $.25 soft drinks.

But at least the have to take the stairs.
posted by redteam at 2:23 PM on April 29, 2005


Wow. It seems really strange to care so much how others get from floor to floor. Take the stairs if you like, but why so much hostility toward escalator riders?

The lunch area in my building has stairs and an escalator next to each other. Don't get me started on the people who ignore the stairs and then attempt to stride up the escalator.

My office has seven floors in a swanky building. We have our own internal stairs and then there are the emergency stairs. The emergency stairs open (from the inside) every fifth floor, and the rest of the doors can only be opened from outside the staircase.

This is apparently some kind of fire/security measure that no one has been able to accurately explain to me.

I will ponder this while standing three abreast on the escalator.
posted by Sheppagus at 2:45 PM on April 29, 2005


This is one of my deep and enduring frustrations with office buildings. Even if you wanted to take the stairs between floors in my building, you can't. They're locked from the stairway side for security reasons. They do not exit to the lobby, but to an alley off the loading dock. It's pretty unpleasant -- they are dark, dank, and rather steep. We do not look forward to fire drills in my building, as we are on the 17th floor.

However, we have internal stairs between the two floors of our office which are very nice. Of course, about half of our employees take the less-conveniently-located elevator anyway. Grr.

(Stand right, walk left. Clumps of people get the terse "excuse me." If you want to stand, fine, but don't block the way for those of us who prefer to keep our feet moving.)
posted by desuetude at 3:27 PM on April 29, 2005


Sounds like some people need to really mellow out. It's one minute out of your entire life, folks. Relax.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:41 PM on April 29, 2005


In my world escalator etiquette is that you stand to the right and leave space for walkers to the left. I thought this was universal but maybe other people live in escalator worlds with different rules?
posted by rdr at 5:01 PM on April 29, 2005


Other people live in their own worlds, rdr. I take two escalators out of the subway on my daily commute, and constantly see people standing left, while everyone else is clearly standing right and walking left. Or they stand right, and set their luggage left. GAH.

I've never loved escalators more than when I was on crutches. Always ready to go, no waiting, no need to do precarious 180-degree turns, no doors trying to cut me off.
posted by MrZero at 8:27 PM on April 29, 2005


My favorite kind of stairwell is the kind that has a decent gap between flights on opposite walls, so you can drop stuff down the middle all the way from the top floor to the subbasement.

The best thing to drop is a large paper drink cup prepared as follows: cut vertical 1" slits about 1" apart all the way around the rim, then fold the resulting tabs outward along a diagonal so you turn the top inch of the cup into a turbine. Then fill it three quarters full of water and drop it down the stairwell. By the time it's fallen about three floors, it's spinning fast enough to shower everybody on the stairs with a goodly spray.

If you splash a little on yourself before you start, you can have fun walking down while muttering angrily and brushing yourself off.
posted by flabdablet at 6:01 AM on April 30, 2005


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