Commonly central pieces of architecture, escalators ascend stories with ease, but they’re frequently eyesores. A few of designs, however, take the necessary model to the next level. Practical can be pretty, and worthy of a runway—or at the very least, a stunning step up.
Atomium (Brussels, Belgium)
While nothing can knock the outside of Brussels’ Atomium—first built for the 1958 World’s Fair, it’s created like a magnified unit cell of an iron crystal—it’d be foolish to ignore the value of its parts. Metal tubes combine massive circles and increase as pathways, wherein original escalators make long trips.
Public (New York City)
Ian Schrager’s bright new Public hotel in Manhattan’s Lower East Side makes an appearance—no surprise for the hotelier known for co-founding Studio 54. Past the ground floor’s rotational doors, escalators designed by Herzog & de Meuron are encased in metal tubes that rush to the second-floor lobby.
Ginza Six (Tokyo, Japan)
The latest, largest mall in Tokyo’s ritziest shopping district, Ginza Six, leaves no corner without a designer edge. The extensive atrium, designed by Gwenael Nicolas, mirrors the crisscrossed design of escalators with angled frame screens that throw the same lines along the outline.
The Natural History Museum (London)
At the Natural History Museum in London, a three-meter Stegosaurus fossil rises at the foot of an escalator that leads to greater heights: Starting in the Earth Hall, the one-way ride blasts right into the middle of a metal globe.—a celestial experience, for certain.
Toledo Station (Naples, Italy)
Toledo station is part of Naples’ work to commission renowned designs by architects and artists, transforms this subway station into a perpetual art installation. Three illuminated escalators drop 38 meters—dipping under sea level. Circled by a scintillating seascape of mosaic tile, the characteristic is an above hole that shines with LEDs; a small crack brings a beam of light onto the escalators, down from the town square high above.
Zollverein Coal Mine (Düsseldorf, Germany)
Not many coal mines reach UNESCO World Heritage status, but Germany’s Zollverein—with a total system of drilling support, and Bauhaus-style architecture from the Modern Movement—stands to the challenge. Now extinct except for trips, a series of escalators are among the largest outside versions of their kind and are flanked with burnt-orange lighting that vibes with the heat that once reflected in the shuttered mines under.
Hudson Hotel (New York City)
It’s not the first time Ian Schrager’s project set the spotlight. After renewing Hudson Hotel over one decade ago, the design unveiled a new doorstep: Within a conventional concrete hole, a set of escalators are immersed in a buzzy neon-yellow glow that drops straight out and onto the path.