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Take a Step Beyond Retail on Saks Fifth Avenue’s Escalator

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Photo by Justin Bridges for Saks Fifth Avenue

Saks Fifth Avenue redesigned the main floor of its flagship store in Midtown Manhattan, one of many upgrades that seek to “step beyond mere retail transactions and involve the visitor in more experiential dialogue,” according to Architectural Digest, which showcased Saks’ dazzling Rem Koolhaas-designed escalator in its February issue. Saks tells ELEVATOR WORLD that KONE provided the equipment on which the renowned architect worked his magic. The unit boasts an iridescent dichroic-film coating that changes colors before passengers’ eyes as they move between the beauty and jewelry departments on the main and second floors, respectively.

Beyond mere conveyances, escalators are “great devices for people watching and sometimes even flirtation,” Koolhaas observed. Koolhaas and his firm, OMA Architecture, looked to classic forms and early department- store escalators — specifically in Koolhaas’ native Europe — for inspiration. Koolhaas told Architectural Digest:

“The escalator was a fantastic attraction at the Paris Exposition of 1900, with names as various as the possible trajectories — horizontal, spiral or curved. Over time, the escalator became standardized into a straight, seamless path. One of the first escalators was installed at Harrods in 1898, and, since then, the escalator has been a crucial element in department stores around the world. We hope to revive the idea of the escalator as a thrill and an attraction.”

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Elevator World | April 2019 Cover

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