Volume VI  Number 4                        April 2011

I'm presenting a seminar at the 2011 AIA National convention in New Orleans.  The title of my seminar is ADA and Urban Regeneration".   I selected that topic to stay within the theme of the convention, but the more I investigated the connection, the more appropriate it became. 


Urban Regeneration is the process by which run-down parts of cities, towns or rural neighborhoods improve their social, environmental and economic well-beingIts objective is ato reverse the cycle of exclusion suffered by people in disadvantaged areas, to provide decent homes,  good transport links, new jobs and safe, comfortable surroundings. These activities, when taken together, contribute to the growth of sustainable communities and the renewal of the built environment.


So how does the ADA get tied in?  A community can be renewed and revitalized by means of environmental changes, sustainable strategies and economic stimulation.  But if us as designers forget about our aging population and other disabled patrons, then we are excluding a large portion of our citizens.  If buildings cannot be accessed and enjoyed by everyone, then we are not reaching its potential.  It is not by accident that the word regeneration is made up of "generation".  It should be all generations that enjoy our spaces.  The ADA allows this to happen by giving us good guidelines to follow.

Urban pedestrian ways


As part of thinking of how best to create a built environment that is universal, which is inclusive of the able-bodied community as well as the disabled community, urban sidewalks are one of the first issues to resolve.




As pedestrian ways deteriorate, they create hazards for the wheelchair users as well as for the visually impaired.  This sidewalk has a larger change in level than the required " which prevents wheelchairs from being able to go over the bump, and could be a tripping hazard for others.


The way to fix this deficiency would be to repair the sidewalk to meet all the sloping requirements.  This is one of the considerations required when renovating a public sidewalk and accessible route.

In This Issue
Urban Pedestrian Ways
Urban Entrances
The Mundane Vs. The Extraordinary
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Urban Entrances 

In an urban setting, the entrances to shops and other establishments along the pedestrian way, must also be accessible.


ramp door

In this entrance the ramp is too steep, and does not have the proper landing at the door.  This would cause the wheelchair user to slide down before he could open the door, that is if they were even able to get up the ramp to reach the door.


The solution would be to rebuild the ramp so it will have a 1:12 slope maximum and a 5'-0" landing at the door.  The ramp could be placed on the side of the building reather than the front.  If the rise is more than 6" then handrails on both sides will be required.

 sloped landing


If some existing spaces are not able to have a 1:12 ramp, the new Standards allow for a steeper slope



 steep ramp


Mundane vs. Extraordinary

I was asked to make a video to answer the question "Why does design matter to you?".  The video that will be shared during the National Architecture Week  April 13-19.  In it I explain that even though the ADA is a requirement, a good architect and designer can take the mundane and make it extraordinary.  A good design will take the needs of all the users into consideration.  They will create design through a universal mind set. 


A good example was the Wyly Theater in Dallas, Texas designed by Rem Koolhaas.  It is a great example of Urban Regeneration and the ADA working as partners to create an environment for all.  Urban regeneration because it is part of the new downtown renewal in Dallas Texas and the ADA played a big role in their decision to create the design feature.






If you find this topic interesting, or just need your Barrier Free CEU while at the Convention, come and take my class.  The ADA and Urban RegenerationSee you in New Orleans


Remeber that March 15, 2011 is when the new Standards became effective in the Federal level.  They will be mandatory on March 15, 2012.


If you want to learn more about the new Standards, The ADA Companion Guide has the 2004 Guidelines with commentary and explanations throughout.

Upcoming CEU opportunities:

April 5- SSTL Codes 4 hours Understanding the ADA
April 28- As Part of Architecture Month in Dallas a seminar and tour of an accessible playground at Reverchon Park.  See details at AIA Dallas
 If you have any questions about these or any other topics, please feel free to contact me anytime.  

Marcela Abadi Rhoads, RAS #240
Abadi Accessibility
214. 403.8714