Precast Concrete Stair Treads Transform a Hip Outdoor Workspace in L.A.

The i|o @ Playa Vista campus is playfully reimagined with a protruding steel staircase that connects collaborative, indoor/outdoor workspaces.
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Banishing two boring facades, a pair of office buildings in Los Angeles become a collaborative, indoor/outdoor playground with the creation of the i|o @ Playa Vista campus. Roll-up doors now open onto vibrant courtyards with outdoor meeting cabanas while pop-out balconies and covered decks are new open-air workspaces. Connecting all of these areas together is a commanding external staircase that defines the facade.

The facades of two office buildings at the i|o @ Playa Vista campus were treated to a makeover with the addition of a steel staircase and multi-level balconies. Along the ground-floor courtyard, a contrasting arrangement of Large Scale CalArc Pavers from Stepstone add embellishment alongside the standard poured-in-place concrete stairs and retaining walls.

Seeking a material to complement the staircase’s steel stringers and risers, the architects turned to Stepstone, Inc. for their precast concrete Steptreads. "The precast advantage is strength," says Patty Muldoon, the Stairtread Division Manager. "Our Steptread product is highly engineered, with a 5,000 PSI rating that meets building codes for both standard and long-span treads. Each Steptread also offers numerous safety and design options to accommodate the needs of commercial or residential applications."

Precast concrete Steptreads beautifully integrate with the staircase’s steel stringers and risers, while Stepstone’s landings provide visual and material continuity. Both products are colored in Espresso Brown to complement the steel structure, as well as elevate the existing poured and scored natural concrete walkways.

Beyond durability, Stepstone strives to provide a versatile product that allows architects to customize aspects of the size, color, and finish according to their design vision. "Steptreads are handmade and wet cast, giving our team a lot of flexibility to accommodate the needs of each project," explains Muldoon. "We offer made-to-measure span lengths, and we can adjust riser heights in eighth-of-an-inch increments. Our non-slip finishes range from a light sandblast to heavier options for more exposed aggregate, and in addition to more than a dozen standard colors, we can also match our treads to products from other manufacturers, including those that use Scofield colors."

The staircase provides a convenient entry into the office buildings from the surrounding courtyard and muraled parking garage. Precast concrete Steptreads offer numerous options for safety stripes—from contrasting color schemes to grooved or extruded lines and even premanufactured, integral nosing. For this project, a light sandblast finish was selected, along with safety stripes in a contrasting color.

Compared to a poured-in-place concrete staircase, precast stair treads also offer other advantages for high-traffic, long-term use. "Our Steptreads generally don’t reveal wear patterns or deterioration over time," Muldoon explains. "However, if one does need to be replaced, an individual unit can be removed pretty easily."

Steptreads offer multiple configurations depending on job site requirements for bolt-on or weld-on installations to wood or steel stringers. Available as open, semi-closed, or closed riser designs, with various options for the edge profile, the final product satisfies both code and aesthetic requirements for residential or commercial projects.

Other products from Stepstone, including precast concrete stair landings, pedestal set pavers, and Large Scale CalArc pavers, create a cohesive look between the stairs, balconies, and entryway. "Our products add a little embellishment, helping to highlight the steel staircase and outdoor walkways as focal points," says Muldoon.

Covered balconies along the front of the building provide a new space for employees to gather. Finished in a matching Espresso Brown and light sandblast finish, Stepstone’s precast pedestal set pavers cover the walkways and coordinate with the Steptreads.

Around the main entryway, Stepstone’s Large Scale CalArc Pavers—pictured here in French Gray with Slag, Espresso Brown, and Granada White with Slag—add a touch of whimsy with an alternating stripe design. The precast concrete pavers, also in a light sandblast finish, appear visually and texturally harmonious with the existing, poured-in-place concrete retaining walls.

Not just for sunny California, Steptreads are also appropriate for a variety of climates. "Our products are used across the country and up into Canada," adds Muldoon. "Just by the nature of precast concrete it's already very dense and durable. Yet, for any area north of the sunbelt and especially for those that experience harsh winter weather, we automatically take extra steps to protect the concrete and help with air entrainment or water penetration."

Various Stepstone products flow together at the i|o @ Playa Vista campus. "Each product complements the other—that’s what makes it look special."

For more information about Stepstone’s products, including Steptreads and pavers, please visit their website.


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