Staircases are a geometry lesson- SUI graduate Bergmeyer’s creations find their strength in tetrahedral concepts.

Staircases are a geometry lesson

Bergmeyer’s creations find their strength in tetrahedral concepts.

By Jennifer Dorsey

Apr 25, 2018

Moritz “Mori” Bergmeyer is accustomed to surprise when he shows someone the design for one of his curving staircases.

“People look at it and say, “‘I can really walk up that?’” he said.

The answer is yes. And quite comfortably. The structure is based on tetrahedral geometry, “the strongest, most stable geometry known to man,” Bergmeyer said.

“They’re different because they are innately elegant and stronger than they look,” he said of the staircases. “It amazes me.”

Earlier this spring he installed one outside a customer’s home in Wilson. But his idea goes back more than 50 years.

Bergmeyer became acquainted with tetrahedral forms in 1966 while teaching a “Form From Technology” class at Harvard University. One of his students discussed them with him.

“He build the most amazing 3-dimensional tetrahedral form,” Bergmeyer said. “It was like a helix.”

After the class, Bergmeyer said, “I decided to sit down and play with it and figure out how to build a spiral staircase.”

Since then Bergmeyer has been involved in a number of entrepreneurial ventures as an architect, real estate developer and software engineer. He owned Grand Targhee Resort from about 1987 to 1997 and started a furniture manufacturing business in Idaho that ran from 1998 to 2008.

The idea of a spiral staircase came alive again when, in his words, “I was about to retire for the third time.” He figured if he didn’t do something serious about it now would be too late.

Bergmeyer plans to use tetrahedral geometry to create not only staircases but structures such as bridges and skywalks. He has one patent and is awaiting final approval of a second.

After creating his business concept he entered the spring 2017 session of the Start Up Intensive, a 10-week entrepreneurship course offered by Central Wyoming College and Silicon Couloir. Despite all his business experience there was much to learn.

“I’d never written a business plan — I just did it,” he said. And there was “just a whole bunch of new things that I never expected would come out of a course like that. Like being able to present your idea in a minute or two.”

He calls the business TetraHelix Staircases. He works with an engineer, a computer expert and a welding shop in Idaho Falls. The structural design work involves a NASA-based finite element analysis program.

Bergmeyer said the staircases he’s building are steel but could also be made of aluminum. They can be used indoors or out.

A staircase isn’t cheap — it could run to $35,000 to $40,000 — but he maintains that the design is better than others out there.

“You can buy a cheap unassembled staircase,” he said. “The curved stairs I build are more generous in space. They’re more comfortable to walk up. There are railings on the side.”

Bergmeyer hopes to get to the point that he can sell the business. Three years is what he’s thinking.

“By that time I will have figured out how to make them efficiently,” he said.

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