Common Ground Found For New Urbanists and the Disabled

Disability-rights activists have criticized New Urbanists for raising entrances above ground level, which hampers accessibility. The 'Lifelong Communities' charrette in Atlanta found the two groups mending ways.

"For [Andrés] Duany, the Miami architect, and for Eleanor Smith, the Atlanta-based founder of the disability rights organization Concrete Change, the charrette turned into an opportunity to forge agreement on at least some elements of a joint agenda. As a result of the discussions, Duany acted to "ensure that all mandates for elevated entries will be removed from the SmartCode," said Scott Ball, charrette project manager for Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. (DPZ).

'What I'm happy about is that there's been a shift in the thinking,' Smith said at the conclusion of the week-long charrette. 'The dialogue was really different - more cooperative and less antagonistic than in the past. So hopefully we're at a turning point.

Over the past several years, Concrete Change has criticized new urbanist house and apartment building designs that put entrances one or more steps above ground level - a height that makes porches more habitable and give interiors more privacy from the street, but at the expense of preventing wheelchair-bound people from entering."

Thanks to Renee Brutvan

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