Where are the Stairs?

on Mar 8, 2010

Often times I’ll walk into a building and find an elevator right by the entrance. I look for stairs but they’re nowhere in sight as they’re typically hidden away at some end of the building. What if it was the other way around? What if the stairs were located right by the entrance of the building while the elevators were hidden off at some far end of the building? People will generally do the more convenient thing, which in this case means taking the stairs. It’s certainly something for building designers to consider.

Here’s another thought on convenience: without a doubt, elevators are convenient to go up multiple stories. But having a fit body is awfully convenient to go up many flights of stairs. And a fit body that uses the stairs helps itself to remain fit.

A strong factor that defeats stair use is social influence. It’s difficult to take the stairs when the friends/colleagues/family you’re with are waiting for the elevator. Why not say something? Even getting one more person on your side is enough to sway the entire group’s decision, and there’s always a possibility that others are willing to take the stairs but are adhering to the group’s default choice to take the elevator. Perhaps if more of us did this, the social norm would be to take the stairs rather than the elevator (I’m sure plenty of places have it like this, and I’m curious to know how these sort of norms developed).

Bonus tip: if you’re looking for the stairs, try following those Exit signs affixed to ceilings. They’ll usually lead you in the right direction.