Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How do architects deal with "head knockers" under stairs?

A common design feature in many commercial lobbies are grand stair cases.  Many times, the grand stair is open on all sides, to feature its structural beauty.  Grand stairs are typically curved or done in a way that it gives the lobby a sense of elegance.
One thing architects and designers don’t think about is what happens with their visually impaired patrons who will not see the back of the stair?  The open structure below the stair is a design feature, but because a blind person who uses a cane to find their way around will only detect an object that is mounted lower than 27” , the stair treads that are above 27” and below 80” will be a hazard since they are not detectable. 

A client of mine called them “head knockers”.  I thought that was pretty appropriate.  Architects and designers are problem solvers. They love a challenge, especially when it comes to being creative with a solution to a possible design issue.  There are many ways that I’ve seen these head knockers get resolved.  Below are just a few of the one’s that I have seen. 

This stair does not have a cane detection element, so it is a hazard to my poor husband, oops, I mean poor man that is running into it

Some designers use planters

Some don't want to call attention to the cane detection barrier rail , so they use a curb instead.  This one is 4" tall.  Although this is technically cane detectable it is not detectable by distracted people who could trip on it

Putting furniture is not a good solution, since it can be moved

At a retail store, placing the back of the stair where there is no circulation path could work

A simple and elegant rail that mimicks the design of the stair

This one is at the University of North Texas and the rail is a nice green and white which are their school colors.  Very spirited
This was a good attempt with low fixed bench type seating.  The problem with this one is that is still open and able to be accessed by a blind person who would not detect the barriers on either side of the open stair.

In general, this type of issue could be a great opportunity for great designers to solve.....  

Sunday, March 13, 2011

When hotels "leave the light on for you"

The 2010 Accessibility Standards modified the provisions for transient lodging.  The changes did not only occurr in the technical standards, but also in the Department of Justice requirements for hotels and other transient lodging facilities.

The Department of Justice made the following additions to the 2004 ADAAG regarding transient lodging:

(1) Facilities that are subject to the same permit application on a common site that each have 50 or fewer guest rooms may be combined for the purposes of determining the required number of accessible rooms and type of accessible bathing facility

(2) Facilities with more than 50 guest rooms shall be treated separately for the purposes of determining the required number of accessible rooms and type of accessible bathing facility

(3) Alterations to guest rooms in places of lodging that are condos and not owned by the facility owner are not required to comply

• Housing at a place of education.

Housing at a place of education are considered transient lodging. The term "sleeping room" is intended to be used interchangeably with the term "guest room". This also includes kitchens within housing units with multiple rooms. Some exceptions are:

o Apartments or townhouse facilities that are provided by or on behalf of a place of education, which are leased on a year-round basis exclusively to graduate students or faculty, and do not contain any public use or common use areas available for educational programming, are not subject to the transient lodging standards

• Social service center establishments.

Group homes, halfway houses, shelters, or similar social service center establishments that provide either temporary sleeping accommodations or residential dwelling units shall comply.

(1) In sleeping rooms with more than 25 beds covered by this part, a minimum of 5% of the beds shall have clear floor space

(2) Facilities with more than 50 beds that provide common use bathing facilities shall provide at least one roll-in shower with a seat. Transfer-type showers are not permitted in lieu of a roll-in shower with a seat. When separate shower facilities are provided for men and for women, at least one roll-in shower shall be provided for each group.

• Reservations Made by Places of Lodging.

o procedures that will allow individuals with disabilities to make reservations for accessible guest rooms during the same hours and in the same manner as other guests,

o and requirements that will require places of lodging to identify and describe accessible features of a guest room,

o to hold back the accessible guest rooms for people with disabilities until all other guest rooms of that type have been rented,

o and to ensure that a reserved accessible guest room is removed from all reservations systems so that it is not inadvertently released to someone other than the person who reserved the accessible room.

• Timeshares, Condominium Hotels, and Other Places of Lodging. The rule provides that timeshare and condominium properties that operate like hotels are subject to new Standards. If the condo is owned by a private person and not the operator of the place of lodging, then it is exempted.

Changes to the Technical Requirements for Transient Lodging
In the 2010 Standards, the section specific to Transient Lodging are 224 for scoping and 806 for the technical requirements. Below are a few of the changes to the technical requirements.

206.5.3 Transient Lodging Facilities. In transient lodging facilities, entrances, doors, and doorways providing user passage into and within guest rooms that are not required to provide mobility features complying with 806.2 shall comply with 404.2.3.

Advisory 224.1 General. Certain facilities used for transient lodging, including time shares, dormitories, and town homes may be covered by both these requirements and the Fair Housing Amendments Act. The Fair Housing Amendments Act requires that certain residential structures having four or more multi-family dwelling units, regardless of whether they are privately owned or federally assisted, include certain features of accessible and adaptable design according to guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This law and the appropriate regulations should be consulted before proceeding with the design and construction of residential housing.

224.5 Dispersion. Guest rooms required to provide mobility features complying with 806.2 and guest rooms required to provide communication features complying with 806.3 shall be dispersed among the various classes of guest rooms, and shall provide choices of types of guest rooms, number of beds, and other amenities comparable to the choices provided to other guests. Where the minimum number of guest rooms required to comply with 806 is not sufficient to allow for complete dispersion, guest rooms shall be dispersed in the following priority: guest room type, number of beds, and amenities. At least one guest room required to provide mobility features complying with 806.2 shall also provide communication features complying with 806.3. Not more than 10 percent of guest rooms required to provide mobility features complying with 806.2 shall be used to satisfy the minimum number of guest rooms required to provide communication features complying with 806.3.

806.2.1 Living and Dining Areas. Living and dining areas shall be accessible.

806.2.2 Exterior Spaces. Exterior spaces, including patios, terraces and balconies, that serve the guest room shall be accessible.

806.2.3 Sleeping Areas. At least one sleeping area shall provide a clear floor space complying with 305 on both sides of a bed. The clear floor space shall be positioned for parallel approach to the side of the bed.

806.2.4 Toilet and Bathing Facilities. At least one bathroom that is provided as part of a guest room shall comply with 603. No fewer than one water closet, one lavatory, and one bathtub or shower shall comply with applicable requirements of 603 through 610. In addition, required roll-in shower compartments shall comply with 608.2.2 or 608.2.3. Toilet and bathing fixtures required to comply with 603 through 610 shall be permitted to be located in more than one toilet or bathing area, provided that travel between fixtures does not require travel between other parts of the guest room.

806.2.4.1 Vanity Counter Top Space. If vanity counter top space is provided in non-accessible guest toilet or bathing rooms, comparable vanity counter top space, in terms of size and proximity to the lavatory, shall also be provided in accessible guest toilet or bathing rooms.

806.3.2 Notification Devices. Visible notification devices shall be provided to alert room occupants of incoming telephone calls and a door knock or bell. Notification devices shall not be connected to visible alarm signal appliances. Telephones shall have volume controls compatible with the telephone system and shall comply with 704.3. Telephones shall be served by an electrical outlet complying with 309 located within 48 inches (1220 mm) of the telephone to facilitate the use of a TTY.

Remeber that March 15, 2011 is when the new Standards become effective. They will be mandatory on March 15, 2012.

If you want to learn more about the new Standards, The ADA Companion Guide has the 2004 Guidelines with commentary and explanations throughout.