Keep it Neutral
Last Fall CSINext had a webinar on Universal Design. The webinar wasn’t specific in how to do universal design. It was geared toward general concept. Focusing on Ramps as the main entrance, automatic dispensers and other areas. Instead of just meeting ADA or ANSI code. Take the principals of accessibility and treat them as a starting point not the final solution.
Which brings me to a project that was on the drawing boards (not really on boards, it was in the computer using Revit) about 2 years ago. This project predates the webinar by a year or two. But having been a RAS (Registered Accessibility Specialist) in Texas for almost a decade. I have always applied accessibility to my designs. One of the basic concepts to remember ‘if supplied, must comply’. There aren’t shortcuts or options that no one in a wheelchair will use this. Accessibility goes beyond the wheelchair, with an aging population, these basic principles of Accessible (or Universal) design become even more critical.
Back to the project. The project was a new entrance for an Urgent Care portion of a hospital. The Facility was built in the early 1960’s. So, at every turn, there was a new challenge. The first one was the use of real estate. The parking lot was very close to the building. The next challenge was climate control. The project was in a colder climate, so a vestibule was critical to the design. Finally, we wanted a distinct entrance to help with way finding, yet at the same time respect the original architecture of the hospital.
Let’s break this down. The real estate change could be overcome by doing a switchback. Because ramps can’t exceed 30 feet without a landing. This helped our cause. Because this was for Urgent Care, 90 percent of the patients are ambulatory. We wanted a straight shoot to the parking. Solution was a short set of stairs at the end of the highest ramp. This allowed those walking a direct path, yet, placed the ramp and stair entrance adjacent to each other.
The prevailing winds for this project site come from the Southwest. So the first approach was to place the vestibule doors on the West side. This would work except; the new entrance would be forced to be on the North side. The solution was to have the vestibule with the doors at 90- degrees to each other. The exterior doors on the West, while the interior doors would be to the North. This also helped with the prevailing winds.
The main hospital entrance was a triangular truss design. I really wanted a solution the that people could say go to the ‘yada yada’ entrance. The building is very linear, so a flat shed entrance was one option. But it did not lend itself to way finding. Anther truss solution was making it difficult to describe. So, the I finally settled on an arch entrance. The balance of the elements I used the 1960’s style. This was if you were telling someone go the triangle entrance to get to the main hospital or the arch entrance for Urgent Care.
At the end of the day, by simply applying Universal Design to a need. The final solution is practical yet appealing. I’ve included a photo of the finished project, and yes it was a little cold while doing the punch list. I travel back to the site next week to do an observation of the roof. I’m hoping the ground hog was right and Spring will be here 6 weeks early.
…and now for something completely different.
Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from Public Libraries.
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