The 2010 AIA/HUD Secretary award for housing accessibility!

Posted on - Friday, May 21st, 2010

I just read that the AIA and HUD has awarded the Madrona Work/Live project by Tyler Engle Architects the 2010 AIA/HUD Secretary Alan J. Rothman Award for Housing Accessibility

Here is what the website article reads:

A storefront from the early 1900’s has been converted into a live / work space for a couple with an extensive art collection. Creating the modern equivalent of the traditional courtyard house, the new design is centered on a large skylight over the living and dining room. Inspired by a shipping container, a wood-clad service core houses the kitchen and powder room. A flexible and multi-functional space is facilitated by large pocket doors, steel plate blinders that hide the kitchen and concealed equipment that pivots out for use.

Like the client whose personality makes the obviousness of his disability disappear, so was the intent to make the design of this project the primary focus rather than the requirements of accessibility. Entering from the sidewalk, the main living space has a single level polished concrete slab for unrestricted wheelchair access. However, the office is raised up four steps to be flush with the sidewalk at the rear of the site to satisfy the client’s desire to “commute to work” around the perimeter of the building. A floating concrete countertop that steps from low to high accommodates disparate height requirements of the clients and exemplifies how the design provides an elegant solution on a tight construction budget.

Some of the Jury comments were:

This project transcends our preconceptions about accessible design and illustrates how Universal Design can be embodied in a design solution that is attractive and usable to a wide audience.

While small scale, this project evidences how accessibility and high quality design can go hand in hand.
(one of the jurors was an old professor of mine at UT Austin- Natalye Appel!)

On a personal note, I am proud that the AIA is recognizing projects for their outstanding accessibility!