Page C2.1 . 08 August 2001                     
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    Doing Universal Design

    by B.J. Novitski

    CD-ROM Review: Universal Design Exemplars by the Center for Universal Design, North Carolina State University, 2000.

    A Japanese garden pond with the lily pads within anyone's reach; a rustic log cabin fully accessible to wheelchair users; a museum exhibit that tells its story through touch and sound. These are a few of the recently published examples of the principles of universal design.

    When the late Ronald L. Mace, FAIA inspired a group of architects and researchers at North Carolina State University to consider design to be for everyone, he set in motion what has become a worldwide movement, with the NC State Center for Universal Design as a leading proponent.

    A recent product from this group is a multimedia CD-ROM, Universal Design Exemplars, which highlights examples from around the world of environments and consumer products that strive for broadest possible usability.

    The exemplary environments and products, explained through text, drawings, photographs, and audio commentary, are notable not only in how accessible they are but also in how well designed they are in every sense of the word.

    The secondary message to designers: do not compromise your high design standards when striving for maximum usability.

    What is Universal Design?

    The term universal design is a goal rather than a fixed target. Its practitioners seek to make products and environments usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.



    ArchWeek Photo

    The Sensory Garden's pond level, elevated above the walking surface, makes it easy for all visitors to enjoy contact with water and aquatic plants without having to kneel or stretch.
    Photo: The Center for Universal Design

    ArchWeek Photo

    The natural look of a dirt path to the mountain cabin was maintained, while making the surface firm in all weather conditions, with the addition of a concrete mix. Stones edging the path serve as a guide curb for people with limited or no vision.
    Photo: The Center for Universal Design


    Click on thumbnail images
    to view full-size pictures.

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