Park Avenue staircase reaches new heights

October 23, 2018
Amanda Zimmerman
Park Avenue staircase reaches new heights

A beautifully crafted staircase is a triumph of artisan millwork, but adding the inherent mathematical considerations of a radius makes it a feat of engineering as well. For one Park Avenue building, Eisenhardt Mills, Inc. took on the unique challenge of refurbishing an existing radius staircase with uneven risers and an incomplete 180-degree turn, transforming it into a work of art whose functionality matches its beauty.

Engineering art

The particular challenges of this project included working with an existing staircase that lacked the full 180-degree turn required by the new design, in addition to uneven risers. This posed not only an aesthetical dilemma, but also a safety hazard, as even a height difference of ¼” among risers, can cause an increased likelihood of tripping.

Working within a small area—the staircase only occupies 45 sq.ft. in a 9’-0” x 5’-0” footprint—it took Eisenhardt Mills’ craftsmen two trips and multiple lasers to plot the existing stairs and steel.

Park Avenue staircase reaches new heightsEisenhardt Mills’ craftsmen used lasers to plot the existing stairs and steel for the radius staircase.

Stepping up

Once the existing structure was surveyed, Eisenhardt Mills’ artisans created a mock-up of the refurbished staircase using MDF and foam, then began crafting the custom pieces to fit over the current stairs. In several places, there was less than 1/16” clearance between the new work and the existing steel structure.

Park Avenue staircase reaches new heightsEisenhardt Mills created a mock-up of the refurbished staircase using MDF and foam.

Using rift sawn white oak and paint grade risers, Eisenhardt artisans clad the existing staircase with new treads. The steel cores for the geometrical balusters were furnished and installed by other tradesmen with whom Eisenhardt Mills collaborated; once installed, Eisenhardt craftsmen clad the internal steel with 2” x 8-⅝” x 51” paint grade flag-shaped wood overlay balusters.

Handcrafted handrail

Rift sawn white oak appears again in the handrail, but with a highly specialized treatment. Eisenhardt craftsmen used lumber subjected to a unique process that uses heat and immense pressure to compress the wood, shortening the length of the planks by 20% and rendering them highly malleable.

Once treated, the now flexible white oak was able to be bent over a three-dimensional form in order to create the corkscrew shape of a radius handrail, without the risk of splitting or cracking the wood.

Park Avenue staircase reaches new heightsEisenhardt Mills’ craftsmen used treated rift sawn white oak that made it flexible, later bending it over a three-dimensional form that created the curved handrail.

Work on the staircase began in October 2017, and was completed ahead of schedule in August 2018. Eisenhardt Mills coordinated with architects, the general contractor, the steel fabricator, and the flooring contractor, as they worked to ensure the integrity of the overall design and seamless integration of the refurbished staircase.

The staircase serves as the only access point from the seventh to the eighth floor of the apartment, so although fabrication was completed early, Eisenhardt had to wait until the site was ready to install the staircase and attach the handrail to the balustrade with nickel brackets.

Park Avenue staircase reaches new heights

Installation elevation

The quality craftmanship of Eisenhardt Mills tailored a refurbished staircase befitting its Park Avenue home. Functional and hand-crafted with unique detail, its beauty and integrity showcase the artistry of custom millwork that adds elegance to the most prestigious locations.

Photo Gallery

Park Avenue staircase reaches new heightsThe first step in refurbishing the staircase was to plot out the existing structure with a laser.

Park Avenue staircase reaches new heightsEisenhardt Mills’ craftsmen made a mock-up of the new staircase with MDF and foam.

Park Avenue staircase reaches new heightsThe rift sawn white oak of the handrail was subjected to a specialized treatment using heat and pressure that made it flexible.

Park Avenue staircase reaches new heightsOnce rendered malleable, the handrail was bent over three-dimensional forms to be shaped.

Park Avenue staircase reaches new heights

Park Avenue staircase reaches new heightsCompleted project