Inclusive Design

With roughly 1 million people over the age of 65 living in NYC, and an expected increase of 50% by 2030, we will soon have more older adults than school-aged children. The population of retirees and young families in NYC has increased, and most of us want to stay in our homes as we age. While NYC and many buildings offer myriad services and amenities close at hand, we know that access to these may be compromised, and an injury can temporarily compromise our abilities. Approximately 11% of New Yorkers have a disability and this increases to nearly 60% for people over 65.

Code requires that all building common areas provide access for all residents. Apartment renovations must comply with current accessibility codes, depending upon when the building was constructed, the extent of the renovation, and the specific conditions. We can work with you to address these as part of a building-wide master plan or to execute a design intervention immediately, depending on cost and existing conditions.

The design strategies that help those with mobility or sensory challenges,  or those at the youngest and oldest ages, often inform good design for all. A client-centered approach is the essence of Inclusive Design and of using a Universal Design process. We approach every project with this sensitivity, as well as with skills in the application of accessibility codes, which is a separate but related component. We are participants in the American Institute of Architects Design for Aging Committee, as well as the City’s committees on code development. We are skilled in designing around the interactive effects of mobility/ cognition/ medications on color, contrast, texture, finishes, lighting and temperature. And we know what furniture, fixtures and technology are appropriate for the individuals served. We understand how to overlay NYC codes with the civil rights acts and rules of ADA and the Fair Housing Act. No matter the size, scale, or budget our focus is to improve the quality of life for all.

Services Provided

Our services can include an accessibility survey or accessibility affidavits.  We can provide building master plans, and we can provide designs through construction for entries, common areas, amenities, and individual apartments or bathrooms.

Process & Deliverables

The process and deliverables can vary depending upon which service is needed. All projects begin with interviewing all constituents and with a survey of all existing conditions, to understand priorities,abilities, and how you are specifically using each space. An accessibility survey or affidavit will focus on the challenges and code violations inherent in the existing condition. A master plan will review travel throughout the building, emergency egress, access to all building amenities and even signage and the quality of light and finishes. Individual apartments and spaces are the most personal, so we focus on the specific needs of the resident as well as their family and visitors. In the case of residents with injuries or special needs, we have collaborated with a resident’s occupational therapist or care team in order to deliver the most thoughtful and creative solutions. We can work with Boards and Management to address modifications that potentially impact co-op and condo rules such as wet over dry issues with roll in showers or space expansions, and we are skilled in the appropriate details for protection.

For all projects, we record all existing conditions and provide a report of all pertinent issues, engaging mechanical, electrical,plumbing or elevator consultants as needed. We provide a code analysis citing specific issues and potential violations. If we go beyond a survey or affidavit, our design approach is similar to all of our projects, which can proceed through construction with full services. As part of the process of providing design options and cost estimates, we provide 3-D views, which give a clear sense of the expected transformation.