Updated – UD Living Laboratory
Mark Leder and Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. of the Universal Design Living Laboratory have a vision: To bring about awareness of the quality of indoor and outdoor lifestyle through universal design, green building, safety and healthy home construction practices to the public, construction and design.
If that sounds like a big endeavor; it is. But, they are making it a reality and have completed building a national demonstration home to showcase how an accessible home can be suitable for all ages and abilities. This home by the Universal Design Living Laboratory will serve to help people better understand how to create a more comfortable living environment that will enhance their quality of life. Besides showcasing universal design principles, the goal is to have the home certified from the U. S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes, the National Association of Home Builders National Green Building Program and Energy Star.
Video walk through of the home
The home is approximately 3,500 square feet and is being built in the Columbus, Ohio, Metropolitan Area. Construction is anticipated to be completed in 2010. The home incorporates unobtrusive universal design, resource and energy-efficient green building methods, advanced automation technology, a healthy home construction approach and the design principles of feng shui. The finest craftsmanship and state-of-the-art products and services will be applied. The gardens will be wheelchair accessible with pathways and will feature raised beds and containers.
The home will focus on being convenient to all lifestyles and life stages, easy accessibility and livability, natural resource conservation and a healthy indoor and outdoor environment. It will be home to Rosemarie and Mark as well as be used as a campus to instruct builders, architects, designers, home owners and manufacturers about Universal Design, green building and chemical-free construction.
How the Universal Design Living Laboratory began
The idea for the Living Laboratory came about after Rossetti suffered a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed after a tree fell on her during a bike ride with her husband 11 years ago. After that, most of their home became inaccessible. “You couldn’t even enter because of the steps,” Rosetta recalls. “We had to put a temporary ramp in, and the carpeting was so thick you couldn’t push yourself around. The doors had to be removed for me to get into the bathroom. I couldn’t get to my office desk or reach file cabinets. My publishing company was in the basement, and I couldn’t get there. The bedroom and my husband’s office were upstairs, and I couldn’t get there. I was suddenly facing a home that doesn’t work for me.”
After that, Rossetti and her husband began thinking about what a home for them would look like. They decided that a ranch-style home would be the right way to go. So, they started looking for a lot, builder and ranch-style house plan. They eventually found a ranch-style home plan but didn’t like the configuration of the rooms. After talking with a builder, he suggested they pull out the walls that they didn’t want and re-design it to fit their needs.
So, Rossetti and Leder hired Pat Manley, president of Manley Architecture, to design them a home. What Manley designed was a one-story prairie style home with universal and green features, utilizing their floor plan, clerestory windows and a portico.
Now the house becomes a reality
There more than 120 contributors of services and products to the project. Once completed, the home will tout 9-1/2 rooms on the main floor and a full basement, which will have a bedroom/office, multi-purpose room and a full bath. It also will incorporate a wide variety of universal design features, including:
- A step-free entrance and wheelchair accessible doors without thresholds
- Lever handles on doors
- Open knee space under all sinks
- Wide hallways for wheelchair accessibility
- Kitchen counters at varying heights
- Lever handles on all faucets
- Extension drawers and shelves in kitchen
- A cook top set into counter with knee space below
- Doors for microwave and oven at counter height
- Light switches that are lower
- An elevator to the basement
- Raised electrical outlets
- Front-loading washer and dryer
- Wheelchair accessible garden and patio areas
For more information about the project and to learn more about their mission, visit the Universal Design Living Laboratories website at http://www.udll.com. They also have a construction site webcam, which you can find on the home page of their site.