Posts tagged with "Accessibility":

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Michael Graves' paralysis informs design for Omaha Rehabilitation Hospital

The architect of Omaha’s new rehabilitation hospital says his own paralysis has given him “greater empathy,” which has informed his designs for the healthcare industry. Local firm DLR Group and Texas-based engineering firm Page are working with Michael Graves, who lost the use of his legs in 2003 as the result of an infection, on the $93 million Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in west Omaha. Expected to be complete in 2016, the facility will use technology to afford sedentary patients greater control over the TV, thermostat, nurse call system, and other things in their room. Omaha’s World-Herald describes how Graves, 79, drew from personal experience while designing the 250,000-square-foot hospital:
Giving patients some control over their environment is important, said Graves and Patrick Burke, a principal in Graves' firm. Graves recalled one instance early in his rehab when he was being transferred from his bed to a chair using a motorized sling. “I was getting into the chair that day and I was up in the air, in a sitting position over my chair but not in it yet. The nurse's aide's friend came in and said, 'It's time for our break.' So they left me there dangling in the air and they went on a break. That's as low as it gets.”
The average stay at Madonna is more than 30 days, but residents tend to be more mobile than many hospital patients. That creates a need for active social spaces, Graves said, but also a pitfall: many architects want hospitals to resemble hotels. “Well, I don’t,” he told the Omaha World-Herald's Bob Glissmann. “I don't think it needs a big atrium and I don't think the rooms have to look like a hotel room. These are hospital rooms, and you want to have good care. What makes the difference is the empathy.”
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Michael Graves Appointed to Federal Post on Accessibility in the Built Environment

President Obama's second-term White House is still in transition, with Ray LaHood out and rumors of an NTSB replacement, Sally Jewell likely in as Secretary of Interior. Among the non-Cabinet-level appointments, the President appointed Michael Graves to a member of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, an agency "devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities." Graves, who uses a wheelchair after an illness-induced partial paralysis, has been a leader in promoting accessibility in architecture, recently designing prototype houses for wounded and disabled veterans. This month, Graves will also be launching a new line of more than 300 products at retailer J.C. Penney, including kitchen appliances, candlesticks, and a toaster shaped like a piece of toast. The Indianapolis-born architect will return to his hometown on March 28 to give a lecture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and he recently spoke with the Indy Star about delivering papers for the publication as a child, architecture, and the new product line. An exhibition of Graves' work, From Towers to Teakettles, is also on display at the Virginia Center for Architecture through March 31.
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Benepe Walks the Ten-Minute Walk

Gone will be the miniature civic history lessons that punctuated ribbon-cutting speeches made by Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. With yesterday's announcement that the commissioner is moving on to the non-profit Trust for Public Land (TPL), the plaudits are pouring in. But as the Bloomberg Administration begins is slow-motion wind down, New Yorkers should be wary of comparisons to the "good" Robert Moses, builder of parks and playgrounds, despite the scale of public works undertaken under Bloomberg. But in terms of Parks, there is little doubt that Benepe's tenure was historic in scope. Now, one of the mayor's signature initiatives—that a park be within a ten minute walk from every home—is about to go national. But will what flies in NYC fly in Louisville? "If I’ve learned one or two things in this job it's that no one model will work for every situation," he said in a telephone interview yesterday. Last month, TPL launched ParkScore, a platform that rates park systems in America's 40 largest cities, with the "ten-minute test" as one of the major criteria in ranking the cities. While widely lauded for drawing attention to the need for accessible park space in cities, there has also been some grumbling about the survey's methods, or even its effectiveness in helping draw attention to the plight of urban parkland. D.C. blogger Richard Layman worried that DC's respectable 5th place position might take the pressure off leadership to make improvements. But Benepe said that the ParkScore is a good way of "spreading the news." The commissioner added that the city's data differed from that of the Trust's when it came to accessibility.  The Trust found that 94 percent of New Yorkers live within walking distance of a park, while the city's more conservative estimate places it at about 84 percent within the ten minute range. "It's a ten percent improvement and that has largely had to do with the Schoolyards to Playgrounds initiative," said Benepe. The initiative to turn moribund schoolyards into after school playgrounds was funded in part by the Trust ($200 million in land purchases and design). It's an initiative that might work elsewhere, "within limits," he said. Funding will, as always, prove to be the central challenge. "Most cities don’t have the density that New York has and most don’t have great wealth," he said, adding that while he believed that the Obama administration would do more if they could, the days of FDR-level federal support for parks dissipated in the seventies. Nevertheless, the public/private model widely touted in New York  may well become the national way of doing things. "New York didn't corner the market in creative wealth," he said .
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Taxi of the Day After Tomorrow?

John Liu, New York's City Controller, is set to reject the much hyped "taxi of tomorrow" because it is not 100% handicap accessible. In rejecting the new design Liu claims that it if adopted as the standard taxi for the city it would become "a symbol of exclusion by telling wheelchair users ‘find another ride.' That's not what New York City is about.” I guess Liu is not talking about the present taxi standard the ubiquitous Crown Victoria which has become an iconic symbol of the city for the past decade but is barely accessible by the public. The design for this taxi of tomorrow—the first purpose-built vehicle designed and engineered to serve as a New York people mover—is really the result of three pioneering initiatives from the Design Trust for Public Space: Designing the Taxi, Taxi 07 Exhibit, and Roads Forward. The Design Trust fought to have the design address a whole host of irritating design features of current Gotham taxis but Nissan Design America, the creator of the car, seems to have forgotten about styling and delivered the ugliest mini van imaginable. Lets hope if they do go back to the drawing board and provide an entirely ADA-compliant passenger vehicle they come back with something more stylish. A Turkish car company Karsan has proposed building—in Brooklyn—a wheelchair-accessible taxi that is far more stylish! Cars manufactured in Brooklyn sounds like a great idea!
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Michael Graves Designs Dignity for Wounded Veterans

In speaking to wounded veterans and their families, the Wounded Warrior Home Project found that soldiers returning home face a cumbersome and costly adaptation to their environment. A private-public partnership, including Michael Graves and Associates, global design firm IDEO, and Clark Realty Capital, has unveiled two universally-accessible prototype houses at Fort Belvoir in Virginia where every element is designed for ease of use. Sinks and stovetops are on motorized lifts, halls and doorways accommodate a wide turning radius for navigating wheelchairs, sliding doors open with a light touch. Architect Michael Graves, who was left paralyzed after an illness almost a decade ago, wanted the space to offer independence and dignity to returning soldiers. For example, the design team concluded through conversations with wounded veterans that the therapy room should be secluded from the rest of the living space to offer privacy and retreat; at the same time, the need for visibility inside and outside the house for security and to keep track of playing children necessitates wide windows and clear doors within the house. These homes are intended to be both starting points for future dialogue on accessibility and laboratories for continuing research as more accessible homes are built.