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Keynote Address to Showcase Universal Design Living Laboratory at ASID National Conference

National Demonstration Home Features Universal Design and Green Building Practices

New Orleans, LA - March 13, 2008 - “Designing Sustainable Homes that Make Life Easier” is the keynote address to be presented by Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. at the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) INTERIORS 08 national conference. Her new national demonstration home, the Universal Design Living Laboratory, is scheduled to start construction in spring 2008 in Columbus, OH. The home is the focal point to teach the audience of designers, industry representatives, educators and students how to design homes that include universal design and green building features in their future design projects.

Universal design is a term coined by Ron Mace at the North Carolina State University Center for Universal Design. It is a framework for the design of living and working spaces and products benefiting the widest possible range of people in the widest range of situations without special or separate design. It is human-centered design, accommodating people of all sizes, ages, and abilities.

Rossetti knows from personal experience the difficulties people face when their circumstances change due to either injury or simply aging. Rossetti said, "I know this situation all too well. Nine years ago, a spinal cord injury left me paralyzed from the waist down. I came home from the hospital in a wheelchair and realized just how unaccommodating my two-story home was to me."

Rossetti and her husband, Mark Leder, began designing a new 3,500 square foot home in 2004 and hired architect Patrick Manley to draw the house plans. A team of experts assisted with the design including Mary Jo Peterson, a nationally acclaimed kitchen and bath designer, and Anna Lyon, interior designer.

The homeowners faced a unique design challenge. Rosemarie is four feet two inches tall when seated, while Mark stands at six feet four inches. Both manage separate home-based businesses, which necessitate private offices. They desire an easy-to-maintain residence and fully accessible landscaped environment that provides ample space for entertaining and housing extended-stay family or guests.

Rossetti will be applying for LEED for Homes certification with the U.S. Green Building Council, the National Association of Home Builders National Green Building Program, as well as a Health House registration with the American Lung Association. Michael Holcomb, President of The Alliance for Environmental Sustainability said, “Every great movement begins with a vision. Universal Design Living Laboratory is to be commended for casting the vision of truly sustainable construction by adding the cornerstone of full accessibility to their design.”

The mission of the Universal Design Living Laboratory is to create 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 industries. Rossetti and Leder have undertaken the task of showing the public that they can live in a comfortable environment that will enhance the occupants’ quality of life regardless of their circumstance, age or abilities.

Currently, there are 94 international, national and local corporations and organizations contributing products and services to assist in building this home. The home will be open to the public for tours upon completion, expected in spring 2009. Ticket proceeds will benefit spinal cord injury research at The Ohio State University.

Here are some universal design features that these experts agree should be incorporated into floor plans and product specifications.

  • Step-free entrance (a gradual, level grade; no conspicuous ramps)
  • All doors without thresholds that are wide enough for a wheelchair or walker (36 inches)
  • Wider hallways (46 inches)
  • Lever handles on doors and faucets
  • Various heights of kitchen counters
  • Full extension drawers and shelves in kitchen base cabinets
  • Cooktop set into a counter with open knee space
  • Side hinged microwave and oven doors at countertop height
  • Side by side refrigerator
  • Sliding casement or awning windows
  • An elevator to the basement and/or second floor
  • Lower rocker style light switches (36 inches above the floor)
  • Higher electrical outlets (25 inches above the floor)
  • Large bathroom with decorative grab bars
  • Wood, non-slip tile and a dense weave, low pile (less than half-inch) carpet floors
  • Large bathtubs with plenty of grab bars
  • Curbless roll in showers with plenty of grab bars
  • Hand-held shower fixture
  • 17 to 19 inches high toilet seat
  • Adjustable hanging closet rods and shelves
  • Front loading washer and dryer
  • Open knee space under all sinks


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Copyright © 2005-2016 Universal Design Living Laboratory. All rights reserverd worldwide.