Queen's University

Accessibility top of mind in new residence plans

 
2013-03-08
Shoalts and Zaback Architects present the accessibility features of the new residence buildings on campus.

Accessibility has been a major consideration in the early planning stages of the two new residence buildings recently approved by the Board of Trustees. Queen’s community members had an opportunity to learn more about those features during the most recent accessibility café.

“As urban and regional planning students concentrating on health and social planning, we definitely have an interest in accessible planning and design,” says Heather McDonell (MPL’14), who attended the accessibility café with her friend Rebecca Tan (MPL’14). “I am glad to see the architects are thinking about accessibility early in the planning for the new residences instead of pushing it to the end when space and budget concerns can often restrict possibilities.”

Ms Tan worked in a Queen’s residence building as an undergraduate student and is aware of the accessibility issues some students encountered. She is impressed the designs for the new buildings address some of the limitations of Queen’s older residences.

“In particular, I really like that each building will have two elevators that can easily accommodate wheelchairs and stretchers,” she says.

Some of the other accessibility features outlined at the forum include:

• Dedicated bedrooms designed for wheelchair access throughout and completely barrier-free living
• Common lounges, kitchens and laundry areas designed for wheelchair and mobility devices
• Doors equipped with barrier-free access
• Clear, straight sightlines with six-foot-wide corridors
• Visual alarms in corridors and 10 per cent of all rooms that can be seen by individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
• Gender-neutral washrooms in common areas and shared rooms

“The accessibility café was a great way to draw on the insight from students who are studying this area of planning,” says Bruce Griffiths, Executive Director, Housing and Hospitality Services. “It was also beneficial to get input from the community on ways we can make the new residences inclusive and welcoming places to both live and work.”

Construction of the new buildings is expected to begin in 2013 with completion for residency in fall 2015. One residence is planned for Leonard Field between Morris and McNeill halls and the other on the site bordered by St. Lawrence Avenue and Stuart and Albert Streets. Additional public meetings will be held later this year to discuss designs and plans.

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