It doesn't look as dramatic a some of the stairs we have shown on this site, does it? In fact, the story of this stair is pretty remarkable. It is in the New York Times Building, designed by Renzo Piano with FXFOWLE, where we had a tour conducted by David Thurm, Vice President and CIO.
The corner of a building is usually given over to an office for some big honcho; at the New York Times building it is given over to an open communication stair that serves that one purpose: to help people work together and communicate better.
Nobody does that on this scale, for a couple of reasons: it is expensive, (it is separate from the required fire exit stairs) and the fire codes don't allow you to connect more than two floors together to control smoke. So how did they get away with it?
Look at that black reveal just below the floor level in the picture above. Every second floor has this- it is the slot for a horizontal fire shutter that slams shut when the fire alarm goes off. (Hopefully slowly enough that someone standing on the stair doesn't get cut in half). Notice how it cuts through the handrail and guard as well.
That is an incredible amount of effort and ingenuity (not to mention money) simply to let people communicate better and get a little exercise. However, according to David Thurm, that is the whole point of the building: to change the way people work.
More on the Times Building to follow.