Andrew Bedar AIA
George Delegas AIA
Dawn Guarriello AIA
Gar Kane AIA
Stephanie McGoldrick NCIDQ
The Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (AAB) and the Boston Society of Architects/AIA (BSA) sponsor the Accessible Design Awards program to recognize excellence in the design of buildings and facilities that are accessible for persons of all abilities.
This year, we examined a total of 16 submissions to the program: nine entries to the public architecture category, seven entries to the William D. Smith Memorial Award focusing on design that integrates accessibility with historic preservation and no entries to the private residential category. This was up from nine submissions in 2013.
In general, all projects submitted to this year’s program seemed to meet minimum universal access requirement. But to be awarded projects must go above and beyond code requirements. And, to be considered great, the building design must the thought of holistically. The entire work must stand up as an example of well-integrated, excellent design. Accessible elements shouldn’t be hidden in the back of the building, but should be creatively and sensitively integrated into the building fabric so that one needs to seek it out to know that it is there. For example, users should not have to push a special button to open doors because all doors are on motion sensors. A design is not universal if one population is required to take an obviously different, segregated path.
We sought projects that displayed out of the box thinking to solve challenges not only to mobility but to sensory and cognitive issues. Regardless of budget, we valued projects that were practical and economical. Most important, we looked for demonstrations of holistic strategies that displayed creativity and kept all user experience in mind while celebrating access.
To architects submitting projects for consideration by future juries, be sure to customize your portfolio for this program. No other design award program will place the user experience under such a bright light. Beautiful photos are likely to carry less weight than compelling case studies that clearly identify design and user challenges and convincingly illustrate each strategy for addressing them.
We wish to express our appreciation to the architects who submitted work to this program and to the AAB and BSA for the opportunity to serve as jurors.