Architect Erick Mikiten made ease of use for everyone a priority when he renovated his 1913 Craftsman in Berkeley, California (right). Of the “stramp,” a combination stair and ramp he designed (above), he says, “I can roll up and down a four-inch step, and my wife can walk naturally, even when carrying heavy things.” The stramp follows and accentuates the home’s curved walls.
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Why doesn’t the world have better accessible spaces? Why do professionals think the ADA is “good enough”? It’s because the typical components of accessibility - ramps, grab bars, and other elements - are grafted on as afterthoughts. And since we all fear the trappings of getting older, or becoming less able, designers don’t explore a deeper potential.
It’s time to move beyond "ADA compliance", and create beautifully inclusive Architecture. Buildings need to work for everybody and every body: young, old, wheeling, walking, sighted, blind, six foot three or three foot six.
It’s time to elevate accessibility to an art form by reimagining beautiful buildings as not just dramatically sculptural or deeply connected with nature, but also infused with humanistic purpose: to orchestrate a profoundly comfortable, functional existence for human beings in all our diversity and throughout our lives.
Reaching that harmony of form and purpose is possible and necessary. It is a new definition of beauty; an alchemy combining the creativity of art and the science of accessibility that lifts architecture up to a new level for everyone: The Art of Access.