A Gathering Place: A Case Study on the Walters Group Staircase

April 6, 2020

How a staircase creates both a functional and a collaborative space

A building’s basic purpose is to meet the needs of its occupants: provide shelter and space so that people can accomplish any number of tasks. A building with excellent design accomplishes this and so much more.

When Walters Group set out to create a new collaborative space for its office staff to meet its needs as a growing steel construction company, they came up with a design that provided both beauty and function.

At the heart of the 40,000 square-foot building was to be a space where people of varying disciplines can cross paths, start conversations and exchange ideas.

“Our vision was to create a central meeting place to connect our different working groups,” said Tim Verhey, Executive Vice President, Engineering & Operations. “The idea of a circular stair resonated with us.”

Walters Groups enlisted the talented design and fabrication teams at Feature Walters to undertake the project, to bring the design to life.

The challenge was made even more daunting by the many materials Walters Group sought to include: steel, glass, wood, corten steel, concrete and stainless steel. “We wanted a mix of details that would provide a safe stair in a pleasing architectural way,” added Verhey. “We wanted to put care into the details.”

Feature Walters drew on its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Princeton, Ontario for fabrication of the staircase elements and its team of talented installers to put it in place.

“We offered Walters Group our full capabilities to provide the complete package: design-assist, fabrication and installation to our customer’s exact requirements,” says Florin Novac, Project Manager for Feature Walters.

For the Walters Group staircase, steel was chosen for the stair stringers, stainless steel for the handrails, corten panels for the guardrails and maple wood for the treads and landings, all surrounded by curved glass.

“This was a challenge for us, but not out of our realm,” continued Florin. “We deal with any product our clients require, including specialty materials and finishes.”

After months of planning and design, each piece was crafted and assembled in Feature Walters’ shop prior to installation.

When time came to install, the structure of the new office building was already up so the stair was delivered in pieces. Rigging was used in tandem with a Broderson to install the steel stringers, then the flooring was finished with concrete.

It took two months to install the feature staircase. Each stair stringer was four tonnes, so ensuring a perfect fit took time. Next, the corten panels were installed. Followed by the steel handrails and wood stairs, each crafted to match the stair’s radius. To enhance the ‘rust’ look of the corten panels, they were regularly sprayed with water. The final stage was installing the glass panel – each made with care – without a scratch.

Construction on the new head office for Walters Group began in the summer of 2016, and the office opened in May 2018.

Looking back on the project, Vehrey is pleased with its development and outcome. “It brought a lot of our different teams together,” he said. “The finished product is stunning – it has a nice, airy feel to it. It’s a great place for people to meet and discuss business.”

The Feature Walters Design Guide

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

Our Feature Walters team has created this guide as a resource to help educate and inspire you with the many styles, materials and finishes available for architects seeking leading-edge architectural options for feature staircases.

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