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Stairway Design and Engineering Symposium

April 26, 2018 - Santa Fe, NM

Download the ProgramYou should Attend!

Design professionals from across the nation will participate in a unique learning event focused on the Stairway, an architectural element that transports us physically from one level to another while providing a creative focal point of three dimensional expression that connects people, the spaces they occupy and the places to which they desire to ascend.

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A special Reception at the foot of the Miraculous Staircase of the Loretto Chapel will follow the symposium.  You will be able to view first-hand and appreciate the technical challenge resolved by an itinerant stairbuilder, beckoned by prayers of the faithful. Be on hand to hear a special presentation by the museum's curator.

Symposium Schedule

Staircase Design & Engineering Symposium

The Symposium is open to Design Professionals and Full registrants. 
Design Professionals earn AIA HSW learning units.
Loretto Chapel Reception and Dinner follow the Symposium

 April 26
8 am - 4 pm

    SMA101 - Designing Safe, Code-Compliant Residential Stairways 1-HSWLU
8:00 - 9:00 a
 Santa Fe
    SMA102 - Residential Balustrade Design Using Common Stair Parts 1.25-HSWLU
9:15 - 10:30a
    Case Study: Loretto Staircase - "How Would it be Built Today?" 1.25 -HSWLU
10:45a - 12p Lumpkins South
    Lunch with Exhibitors  12 - 1p
 Lumpkins North
   Balloting of "Architects Choice StairCraft Award" 12- 2p
   Exhibits Open 12 - 3 p  "
   Innovations in Wood Product Research -  Michael Ritter, Asst Director
   USDA Forest Products Laboratory, Madison 1- LU
 2 - 3p
 Lumpkins South
   ANSI AWI-SMA 063400 Wood Stair and Rail Standard Update and
International Code Council Stair Codes Update - 1-HSWLU
3 - 4 pm  "
   Welcome Reception at Loretto Chapel                                                                         (Open to all Design Professional and Conference Registrants)
5:15 - 7 pm   Loretto Chapel
   Dinner at La Fonda with Americas best Stairbuilders and Stair Designers.  7:15 -  LaFonda Lumpkins

Symposium Speakers

Gayla D. Bechtol, AIA , Gayla Bechtol Architect, Santa Fe

Panelist - Case Study: Loretto Staircase - "How Would it be Built Today?"

Gayla Bechtol started her eponymous architecture firm located in Santa Fe, New Mexico by way of Los Angeles, New York and Maxwell, New Mexico from her native Texas. She gained her formal education at University of Texas, Southern California and Harvard University Graduate School of Design and continues to pursue knowledge and creativity every day in the context of the beauty of the built and natural world. Gayla has participated in several community ventures contributing architectural skills to the process: leader in the development of the Railyard planning process, member of the Trust for Public Land Advisory council, member of the Board of Directors of Tierra Contenta, a nonprofit developer of affordable housing within a new-urbanist context in southwest Santa Fe and is the Immediate Past President of AIA Santa Fe.

She was awarded a State of New Mexico Historic Preservation Award for her work with the Santa Fe Railyard. She became a qualified New Mexico Historic Architect in 2007.

She also received an Architecture Preservation Award from the City of Santa Fe Historic Design Review Board. She enjoys the challenge and complexities of working within the constraints and political environment of the Historic Districts and New Mexico.

Erik W. Farrington, P.E. (MA, CT, NY, RI) Associate Principal, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Boston, MA Panelist - Case Study: Loretto Staircase - "How Would it be Built Today?"

Erik Farrington is an Associate Principal at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger in Waltham, MA. He is a P.E. with over 20 years of experience in the structural design of new construction and the repair and rehabilitation of numerous buildings. He has been involved in renovation design projects for buildings ranging from nineteenth-century masonry buildings to twentieth-century concrete and steel buildings. He has been involved with the design of stair structures constructed of wood, steel, glass, and concrete for use in both renovation and new construction of single family residences and commercial buildings.

Steven Guenzel - President SMA, President Advanced Stair Systems                                                                  Panelist - Case Study: Loretto Staircase - "How Would it be Built Today?"

Steve began his career in Stairbuilding as a youth in an after school job that became a lifetime passion.  Steve maintains a collection of 18 & 19th century Stairbuilding and Handrailing volumes that would rival any museum.  He has studied them to gain the lost ability to plot arcs across oblique spatial planes that define the complex geometry of curved handrails and understand the techniques used in stairbuilding long ago that CADD and CAM solutions in some cases still struggle to rival.  As president of the SMA Steve has demonstrated by exampled participation in 8  - 10 SMA workshops a year that there is much more to learn than there is to loose in sharing knowledge of our craft and industry.  Steve is currently concluding his second term as President of the SMA.

Michael Ritter, Assistant Director, USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory

Michael Ritter is the Assistant Director for Wood Products Research at the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, in Madison, Wisconsin.  In this position, Mike provides program leadership and oversight for several units conducting research in the areas of wood anatomy, wood engineering and properties, biodeterioration of wood, protection from decay, fire engineering, building sciences, statistics and the evaluation of life cycle assessments and the economics of wood utilization.  Mike attended California Polytechnic State University, the University of Alaska and the University of Wisconsin, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the states of Alaska and Wisconsin.

Innovations In Wood Products Research (Ritter, Senalik, Ross)

From Sky Scraping high rise structures to CLT technology to structural elements such as Stairs, Handrails and Guards (Balustrades) wood shines as a resilient, low cost, low carbon footprint, structural material outperforming steel concrete and glass in new and innovative solutions for our built environment.


Andy Chatman, Crown Heritage -  'Residential Balustrade Design Using Common Stair Parts' and 'Architectural Educator Certification'

Andy is the Director of Customer Support for Crown Heritage.  As well as developing customer education for Crown Heritage he and has been actively involved in the development of SMA education programs including "Residential Balustrade Design Using Common Stair Parts" the SMA-102 continuing education course for design professionals that he will present during the design symposium. 

Dave Cooper, SMA Code Development Representative - 'Designing Safe, Code-Compliant Residential Stairways' 

With 45 years in the stair industry David has had the opportunity to work with the finest people in our industry many of them are part of the SMA.  His representation of the SMA in the ICC Code Development process and ANSI Standard Development  has given him opportunities to work together with Architects, Builders and Contractors, Industry interests, Advocacy groups, and Regulators to define the Stairway Aesthetic while perpetuating our craft and the most robust and resilient modality of human transport since man first realized the advantage of ascent.


The symposium will take place at the beginning of the 30th Anniversary, 2018 Annual Conference of the Stairbuilders and Manufacturers Association.You may register for the full conference or just the symposium.  In either case come to enjoy the art, history, and culture of Santa Fe that has inspired its unique architecture and the worldwide interest of stairbuilders.

Please Join with us to learn and network with experts, most appropriately in Santa Fe and immerse in a culture which has inspired its own unique architecture and the worldwide interest of stair designers and stairbuilders.

Register Today!

Learn more of the SMA Annual Conference and our 30th Anniversary Celebration at the links below:

Conference Schedule  Travel and Lodging  Conference Activities   Exhibitor Info 
Sponsor Opportunities  SMA Auction  SMA Golf

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