While The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has gained significant ground in reaching the architects and developers of public and commercial environments, little has been done to enforce the same standards for residential settings.
It was this fact that motivated Wayne Geurink, founder of a nonprofit spinal-injury support group, Chairs and Cares, to develop a model accessible house in his base of Wausau, Wisconsin. Working with a local team, including Keller Builders, architectural designer Roger Plamann, and Midstate Independent Living Consultants, Geurink also tapped Kolbe, a nearby manufacturer of windows and doors, to provide the fenestration. This was because, according to Geurink, navigating doors and doorways are among the biggest challenges for people with liminted mobility.
“We were very excited about the project,” says Lance Premeau, Kolbe’s product manager for the project. “We recognized the emerging trend of [aging] baby boomers and the awareness of the disabled, as well as the limitations of window and door products on the market.”
Indeed, when the Chairs and Cares Model Accessible Home opened in October 2007, it featured 51 Kolbe windows and 21 interior and entry doors—all modified from standard products. “The way our products were designed originally allowed us to take them to a level for accessibility rather easily,” says Premeau. “We already offered a low-profile handicap sill and lever door handles.”
Thus encouraged, Kolbe went the distance and transformed the line extensions and modifications developed for the Chairs and Cares venture into an actual Universal Design Program. Moreover, this new grouping, launched at the 2008 International Builder’s Show (IBS), provides an aesthetic appropriate for private homes as well as assisted living and nursing facilities, small medical offices, and light commercial or retail locations.
Using the company’s Heritage wood series and the Ultra series with its extruded aluminum exterior, the Universal Design Program’s accessible door selections feature wider interior and exterior door sizes to help provide enough space for those using mobility aids such as wheelchairs; bronze anodized handicap sills (thermal break and nonthermal break) for maneuvering through swinging doors; aluminum sill ramp kits for sliding patio doors; lever handles for swinging doors available in variety of styles and finishes; even an optional second lever for interior doors to abet opening and closing from a seated position. Kolbe Windows & Doors, Wausau, Wis. www.kolbe-kolbe.com
[Reader Service: May 2008 #216]
On the outside, the doors are protected with a one-piece primed medium density overlay and PVC glazed bead for durability as well as resistance to damage and absorption from drenching, wind-driven rain. On the inside, an architect can specify just about any wood species to coordinate with a building’s interior finishes. Simpson Door Company, McCleary, Wash. www.simpsondoor.com
[Reader Service: May 2008 #217]
[Reader Service: May 2008 #218]