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1. In this LEED-certified house in Bloomingdale, an industrial-looking floating steel staircase was designed to go along with the exposed ductwork and radiant-heated concrete floors that surround it—the idea was to minimize the use of materials. Low-VOC paint in an upbeat green adds punch. Architect/Builder/Stair design: Vertex Architects, 1147 W. Ohio St., 312-432-9870, vertexarch.com. Fabrication: Orsolini Welding and Fabricating, 3040 W. Carroll Ave., 773-722-9855.
2. The original ceiling beams in this repurposed West Side building, a former factory, were salvaged and made into planks for stairs. The cutout circle shape on the side of the landing is a nice detail—as is the colorful chandelier, inspired by rice-paper lanterns, that ever-so-slightly echoes it. Architect: James Gray, Cornice & Rose, 804 W. Roberts Rd., Barrington, 847-487-9487, corniceandrose.com. Design and fabrication: Iron & Wire, 773-255-2672, iron-wire.com.
3. In this former soda pop factory on the South Side, a bright-yellow curved stairwell with a contrasting dark wall makes for a dramatic entryway. The steel railing has a hint of Art Deco styling to it; maple treads keep the steel from looking too cold. Architect: Foster Dale Architects, 3717 N. Ravenswood Ave., 773-327-1000, fosterdalearchitects.com. Design and fabrication: Iron Impressions, 39 W. Home Ave., Villa Park, 630-833-4454, ironimpressions.com.
4. A bold mix of materials makes this staircase the centerpiece of a two-story condo in Ukrainian Village. A Plexiglas wall that extends to the rooftop of the building (part of an enclosed addition) is trimmed with a wide band of Macassar ebony. The green-tea-stained ash treads add an element of surprise. Builder: Joseph Panfil, Big Art, 1050 W. Kinzie St. Architect: Michael Mohr, 847-967-1950. Interior architecture: Frank Ponterio, 847-234-5704, frankponterio.com. Interior design: Bruce Tittle; email@example.com. Design and welding: Weld Custom Design, weldchicago.com.
Photography: (1,2,3) Nathan Kirkman; (4) Andreas Larsson