Washington Post Features NIDRR Research on Universal Design

Fort Belvoir—a U.S. Army base located in Fairfax County Virginia, is home to some of the most up-to-date accessible housing and care services in the nation. Designed to accommodate returning, active-duty soldiers, injured during combat, these military -owned and -operated housing facilities look more modern than regimented. Sleek and aesthetically appealing, 2 of the 21 planned state-of-the-art homes were recently completed in November of 2011.

Upon viewing the new homes and the attention to detail, it is easy to see the brilliance of lead designer Michael Graves, who not only lent his vision as a renowned architect to the project, but also his real-life experience as someone who is paralyzed from the chest down. Graves’ designs, created with design firm IDEO incorporate the functionality of an accessible care facility with the outward appearance of a modernized single-level, three-bedroom family home. Innovations such as automatic, keyless, and level entryways; easy access sliding doors; spacious hallways and kitchens; extra storage space and electrical outlets for assistive technologies; and even a dedicated therapy room are coupled with home design features such as luxury plank vinyl, vibrant coloring, wide and level windows, and extra spacious garages. These are only a few of the amenities encapsulated in each 3,000 square foot home—valued between $500,000-$600,000.

The Wounded Warriors Home Project incorporates the research and development work of the University of Buffalo’s Universal Design program, which is conducting data research on the schematics of these homes for use in more expansive and civilian settings. The NIDRR-sponsored Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) division at the University of Buffalo specializes in research and development in the field of universal design and partners with various industries to help put their discoveries into practice. The RERC’s mission is to create safer and more accessible environments and structures for people with disabilities while maintaining a comfortable balance with the general public.
The full Washington Post article, published in December 2011, is available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/michael-graves-army-partner-to-design-homes-for-wounded-soldiers/2011/12/06/gIQAjI03vO_story.html

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