Karen Braitmeyer of Studio Pacifica, an architecture firm specializing in universal access, renovated her home not only to accomodate her needs (she is a wheelchair user) but her daughter's (also a wheelchair user but with a different disability). She and architect Carol Sundstrom had to make necessary deicisions on the house, such as eliminating the orignal fireplace to create a family room and better utilize the home's 2,000 square feet. The kitchen was completely reworked to cater to any user and now has four different counter heights, a side-opening oven, smart cabinets, and extra room in front of the sink.
“It’s interesting—most people put every wheelchair user in the same category, and figure you should just build to ADA specifications,” says Sundstrom. “But when Karen and I work with wheelchair users, we don’t just open the guidelines for universal design and follow the instructions—we measure arm length and reach, and we consider with our clients how long we should anticipate muscle strength, and what must continue to adapt architecturally. In this case, Karen and her daughter have different requirements, and we also needed to think of David’s needs.” Photo by Kathryn Barnard.
Photo by: Kathryn Barnard