Monday, May 12, 2014

The most beautiful stair in Washington: Lutyen's British Embassy

My favorite part of the tour of the British embassy was seeing the small private stair which leads from the public rooms to the private spaces of the residence; this is probably the most beautiful stair I've seen in DC.
 Lutyens took particular care with his staircases as he enjoyed the drama and panache they provide to any structure. Here he took a circular stair one step further by incorporating a circle into the iron handrail.
The floorplan above shows the location of the private stair (L). The circle made for a compact stair that could fit to the side of the public circulation.
The treads are limestone cantilevered (in parts) from the limestone walls. To provide a graceful ascent Lutyens designed many of his stairs with very short risers and long treads.
 Displayed in the stairwell is this colorful silk banner of the Royal Arms once owned by William  IV.
 A window on the 2nd floor allows natural light into the space.
A very regal portrait graces the top landing - Queen Victoria perhaps? I'll share a very different stair from the house shortly, the Grand staircase.
Floorplan from The Architecture of Diplomacy, The British Ambassador's Residence in Washington. Photographs are my own.


Blue said...

I have the book now and find it wonderful. Besides the photographs and the text it is so well-produced – heavy with the weight of proper coated paper, and with a cover of embossed blue cloth that is simply superb.

Had you not written about the book I should not have known. thank you.

Stephilius said...


Stephilius said...

And, yes, that is Queen Victoria. A copy of the 1838 official portrait by George Hayter. : )

John J. Tackett said...

This staircase is a real beauty. I can hardly wait for the next post on the 'grand' stair!

Mark Ruffner said...

Another nice touch is the notched "S" shape that connects each column of circles, just lovely. As they say, it's all in the details.

un ami de la Reine said...

You lucky so-and-so! Salivating at the prospect of seeing more.

Karena Albert said...

So elegantly designed Stefan. I love it!

The Arts by Karena

The Down East Dilettante said...

Lutyens really knew how to play the game. Just amazing.

Row homes and Cobblestones said...

Your photos are beautiful. The stairs are breathtaking, every detail intricately designed.