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February 1, 2007 12:03 AM

Broken: Impassable staircase

StaircaseFrom Esther Dyson's Flickr photostream:

This staircase that goes neither up nor down is part of the Lloyd's heaqduarters building, at the corner of Leadenhallband Lime Street in London.

This is the kind of staircase you see in anxiety dreams.


Clearly, you're meant to slide down the railing. ;)

Posted by: Kalthare at February 1, 2007 05:41 AM

Now that's just a really odd one there... I can come up with 2 reasons why this might be the way it is, but neither one really keeps this from being broken - at least to the point where you think they would put up barriers to keep people from looking at just how weird it is:

1) those stairs are solid concrete, so instead of taking them out put in a support column for a new second story, it was determined that would be good enough.

2) the column or whatever it is, is only temporary and it was decided that repairing the stairs after they take the column back out was the most cost effective...

no.... it doesn't matter, that's just too silly looking.

Posted by: Memnon at February 1, 2007 01:03 PM

Hmm... I think it's interesting that you can still see where the stairs are supposed to go to. Putting a column there would make a little more 'sense' if it were one of those stairways to nowhere (like the brick wall we've seen on here before), but why block a perfectly functional staircase? I think people do this sort of stuff on purpose. 'Living' urban abstract art. I like it. =D

Posted by: ambrocked at February 1, 2007 02:52 PM

If it weren't for the handrail I would say that the "stairs" were just decorative masonry... but with the rail.... I haven't the foggiest

Posted by: VHoratio at February 1, 2007 06:55 PM

That is pretty silly. On campus there is a wheelchair ramp that ends at a light pole. It's not quite a bad as this

Posted by: T-Bone at February 1, 2007 07:20 PM

LOL! Really bad planning on their part.

Also, I think the anxiety dreams would look like that. I can imagine it now:

Woman walks up to Help desk.

"Help. I'm late for work and their is a column blocking my way!"

Help person looks blankly back at her.

Posted by: st33med at February 2, 2007 11:07 PM

Aw man. Its supposed to be there, not their.

Posted by: st33med at February 2, 2007 11:08 PM

I think the Architect missed.

Posted by: goUseIt at February 7, 2007 12:34 PM

perhaps it was installed as part of a seismic upgrade.

Posted by: RossB at February 8, 2007 01:31 PM

Here is a .PDF containing shots of the columns, e.g., on page three. Looks like they are not an afterthought but a central part of the building's design.'s%20lloyds%20presentation.pdf

I like that--"strategy - create unobstructed open space".

Posted by: 6uold at February 8, 2007 03:33 PM

I came upon a similar staircase in a church in Oberwesel Germany. Here is the link:

Posted by: Aleks at February 8, 2007 03:43 PM

My Theory: The "steps" were only meant to be a decorative base for the pillar, not an actual stairway. The handrail was likely added because an over-zealous building inspector (or perhaps a crooked one looking for a handout) insisted that the building code requires handrails for all stairways, whether they are navigable or not.

Considering the stairway appears to be less than two feet wide, I feel it unlikely that it was ever intended for actual use.

Posted by: Chip at February 8, 2007 03:51 PM

I think Chip is correct here - perhaps the architect wanted to continue the line of the (functional) handrail down from the floor above in the transition from upper ground floor to lower ground floor. The Lloyd's Building is a work of 'high-tech' architecture of the highest order known particularly for the quality of the detailing and this arrangement is very unlikely to be a mistake or oversight. Perhaps it is a bit of architectural whimsy - for example elsewhere in the building there is a panel detail which recalls the Smithsons' water tank 'campanile' at Hunstanton School.

Posted by: mmlawless at February 8, 2007 05:26 PM

the railing on those stairs is not ADA compliant and judging by the photo, the tread width and riser height are not to code. It is clear that these are an old set of stairs. In order to get the column to sit on grade, the entire stair structure needs to be demolished. This not only affects the stair, but the immediate surrounding areas which may have historical significance, or could possibly unearth other costly problems. Likely a combination of the two.

Posted by: ry-dog at February 8, 2007 08:37 PM

Since when does the Americans with Disabilities Act apply in the United Kingdom?

Posted by: mrcool1122 at February 10, 2007 12:35 AM

mabye the pole isnt real but just a projection of our fears of not achiving our goals

Posted by: zeldario at February 10, 2007 04:52 AM

They do it like that because they want to make sure that you are paying attention!

Posted by: zzo38 at February 11, 2007 03:03 AM

Maybe the answer is to find out if there is anything interesting to look at through those windows to the left. Maybe that's what the stairs are there for.

Posted by: henrybowmanaz at February 11, 2007 07:55 PM

Quote by st33med:

"Aw man. Its supposed to be there, not their."

I know this is old, but I was reading through and can't pass this up. I'm assuming you were talking about the comment right above yours that says, "LOL! Really bad planning on their part."

I just love it when people try to correct other people's grammar and don't know what they're talking about. The person was correct. "Really bad planning on there part?" What is that, like "Really bad planning on that there part?" Red neck talk? I read too many internet forums. I just need to shut up. But don't correct grammar if you don't know what you're talking about. Forgive my being so rude.

Posted by: paQman at March 9, 2007 02:57 AM

PaQman, St33med was actually correcting the sentence that read, "I'm late for work and their is a column blocking my way!" Also, he/she was correcting his/her own error.

Posted by: TheJerm at March 14, 2007 04:58 PM

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