A blog about universal and accessible design

Thursday, November 12, 2009

two new architecture projects

very different ones...

- The Interlock House was a recent entry in the Solar Decathlon in DC (via Urbantrekker). Designed by a team from Iowa State, the house "is designed specifically to appeal to seniors and meets all regulations for accessibility under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. The house is also designed to "interlock" into existing communities instead of taking over undeveloped land—a much more sustainable approach to building." (nice way of putting the joint goals of universal design and sustainability)

Image: Computer drawing of the Interlock House, a modern, rectangular house with an angled roof covered in solar panels and surrounded by a yard and blooming garden. A wide, flat deck that wraps around the corner. In the mock-up, an older couple go about their daily tasks: she is arriving with a bag in hand, he is raking leaves.

- Temporary solar-powered wheelchair lifts are to be installed at the Duke of York steps in London for the Festival of Architecture next year (via bd). Cool solution for the age-old historic buildings accessibility problem, and fitting modern look for the festival. Reminds me of my old post on a world without stairs.
Image: Computer drawing of the three-tiered Duke of York steps, with the mock-ups of three glass towers installed on the landings to house wheelchair lifts.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Apparently a new building at Cal State - Long Beach has all the signs of accessibility we've come to recognize -- that is, just the signs. Beyond the standard blue wheelchair signs indicating access, the planners seem to have forgotten to actually add accessible features. I love the outrage of the op-ed in the student paper, the Daily 49er:

This is a brand new frickin’ building. If no accommodations are made to make it easier for disabled persons to enter, what is the purpose of the signs? Are they just put there to tell people with disabilities they are welcome inside — if they can manage to get in? It’s like saying, “We have food, but you’re only allowed to smell it from outside if you can’t open the door yourself.”
I'm dismayed at this design goof, but I love the insight into how students these days see accessibility requirements, which for many of them have been in place since they were born (sorry fellow old folks -- many college students were born in 1990 or later). The op-ed quotes the ADA and the University's diversity policies and asks how this oversight could have happened. For them, these codes are a given, and violations (at least violations this obvious) an outrage. We're a long way from the early disability rights activists at UC Berkeley in the late 1960s, who had to ask fellow students to drag their wheelchairs up and down stairs, and plan their classes around physical barriers around campus.