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Designing ADA for Independent Living

Cindy McLoed, AIA — Schmidt Associates Kim Dodson — The Arc of Indiana


Cindy McLoed

Kim Dodson

Associate - Sr. Project Architect

Executive Director

Schmidt Associates

The Arc of Indiana

Being exposed to interesting places and creative processes early gave Cindy a great passion and love of creating spaces and environments. Now, with more than 20 years’ experience, Cindy has brought her passion of designing and creating spaces to the K-12 Studio. As a Sr. Project Architect she creates spaces that take account of the needs of each age and stage of children’s learning lives.

Kim was named the Executive Director of The Arc of Indiana in 2013. With over 20 years of experience in public policy and government affairs, she brings a true passion for helping people with special needs succeed in all facets of life. By showcasing the talents and value of people with special needs, Kim is a part of the movement to lessen their dependence on government services and find employment opportunities for those with special needs.

Special Acknowledgments: • The Arc of Indiana • Arc Innovations • Erskine Green Training Institute (EGTI)

• Self Advocates of Indiana • City of Muncie • Schmidt Associates



Erskine Green Training Institute and Courtyard by Marriott — Muncie

At A Glance Location: Muncie, IN Size: 113,600 s.f. Cost: $21,120,000 Type: New Facility Services: Architecture, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Interiors, Energy, Civil, Landscape Architecture, Technology, and Construction Administration

Project Overview The Arc of Indiana has developed a ground breaking new idea to create a training center for individuals with disabilities as part of a working hotel. Integral to the success of this plan was to create a hotel that not only meets the needs of individuals with disabilities, but exceeds them. Through discussions with The Arc’s Self Advocates, we were able to implement many design features that make staying and working at this hotel an exceptional experience. 4


A Breakdown of What The Arc of Indiana is All About... • Creates a way to reduce unemployment rate for people with disabilities • Creates a fully accessible building that is appealing and accommodating for many disabilities • Creates a strong business model that will provide profits to sustain project and allow for growth • Allows people with disabilities access to job skills so they can gain independence

Project Mission Statement The Training Institute and Teaching Hotel provides people with disabilities the opportunity to learn job skills relevant in the hospitality, health care, or culinary industry which will allow them to become independent and enjoy a higher quality of life.


DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS From the beginning we knew this hotel had to be different. It had to be distinct in a way that embraced the unique nature of the people who would not only be staying here, but in a way that welcomed people living with a variety of disabilities and made them feel special. In order to make this vision a reality, the Schmidt Associates design team spent time working with the Self-Advocates of Indiana to try and gain a deeper understanding of the wants and needs of this diverse group of people. Through our group and individual discussions, some of the key learnings were: • Consider that more than one person in a wheelchair might be occupying a space • Disabilities can affect one side of the body and not the other • There is a strong fear of getting stuck in a building during an emergency • How doors are addressed can greatly ease or restrict access


In addition to the layers of design relating to ease of use for people with disabilities, we could not ignore the other design challenges inherent to this project including: • Creating a connection to the Horizon Convention Center • Working on a landlocked piece of property • Dealing with underground foundations and brick roads • Fitting into the site context • Frequently used train tracks that run about 100 feet north of the site Don’t forget, this is also a branded Courtyard by Marriott Hotel – all brand standards apply. Simple really. Though all these elements are important and lead to a successful project, we are going to focus on how we used design to make the hotel easily accessible for a variety of disabilities. We hope that some of our learnings can become best practices for other design professionals as well.

We are citizens who speak out, advocate, and educate for equal rights, respect, and inclusion for all in the community. - THE SELF-ADVOCATES OF INDIANA



TURNING AREA Ambulatory individuals, those of us who can easily walk on two legs, often take for granted how simply we can get around. We can turn in tight spaces and move our bodies in ways that come naturally. When standing, people take up the smallest amount of space – approximately 216 square inches of space. When seated in a wheelchair, a person needs about 1,440 sq. in. - over 6.5 times the space as someone standing upright. This additional space need must be considered in all areas for them to be easily accessible to those who move in a chair. Architects and designers can easily rattle off the minimum requirements for turning in a wheelchair. But how many know the recommended turning area? In a manually operated wheelchair, trying to turn in a 60� turning circle would be similar to me turning in a box the width of my shoulders - possible, but difficult. By adding a little extra space, we can make spaces more easily accessible for those who need it. The recommended minimum turning area for a person in a wheelchair is:

78 in

60 in

When designing all of the spaces in the hotel, we took special care to ensure ample space for a turning ellipse. In the accessible hotel rooms, the most utilized spaces for those with ambulatory disabilities, we included multiple areas for turning ellipses in the rooms; including ones in the bathroom and the entryway.

30 sq. in.

48 sq. in.

Space a wheelchair normally uses



BATHROOM AND SHOWER LAYOUT When designing the bathrooms for an accessible room, you must keep in mind that some disabilities limit the use of a person's left or right hand. Grab bars, plumbing fixtures, and electrical switches are set up to favor one side or the other. The shower and toilet grab bar locations may not seem important to most, but they are a huge part in making hotel rooms safe and comfortable for those without the function of both arms and/or hands. Creating mirrored accessible rooms provides options for hotel guests when making their reservations.


DOORS Another design aspect that allows better ease of use is the inclusion of automatic doors. Many buildings have door actuators (push pads) or automatic sliding doors to operate the doors on entry doors for easy entry. From our conversations with the Self Advocates, it was determined that it would be suitable to place automatic door openers on the accessible hotel guest room entry doors. This convenience factor makes it much easier for guests to get into their rooms – especially while also juggling luggage! To make facilities more accessible for those in wheelchairs, there are other design ideas we provided at the hotel to make it easier to move around: wider door openings, sliding doors, and minimal floor transitions. • Creating wider door openings is a simple design change that makes it easier to maneuver through in a wheelchair. • Sliding doors were used as bathroom access instead of swinging doors in the hotel guest rooms. These doors stay out of the way and can still be closed if privacy is desired. • The transition between tile and carpet flooring materials was minimized by feathering under the carpet to build up to the tile height. This allowed an easier transition at the threshold.


DESIGNING AND DIMENSIONING It is very easy as a designer to place the minimum dimension on your plans. A good learning is *Don't design and dimension to the bare minimum* Leave yourself some extra wiggle room in case issues arise during construction. Construction tolerances are not always the same as accessible tolerances. Try not to get stuck being just a bit shy of acceptable. These issues can quickly become very costly fixes.

WATCH FOR FF&E ISSUE ITEMS Sometimes Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment (FF&E) items fall under the Architects scope, other times not. In either circumstance, it is important for us as designers to be aware of all things that can affect the usability of the spaces we are responsible for. This can include builtin furniture and equipment, the location of loose furniture, and helping staff be aware of optimal furniture placement. For example, make sure items such as the mini fridge are accessible or that the coin operator is at an approved height at the washer and dryers.


ACCEPTABLE HEIGHTS The height of a bed is typically a personal decision and one can select a frame and mattress based on preference. Because of this, bed height is not governed by code. In a hotel however, the height of a bed can be an access issue for someone with a disability. Let’s compare a typical bed height to the required height of a transfer seat or bench: Transfer seat or bench:

19 in

Bed frame:

19 in 7 in Box Springs:

9 in

19 in

7 in Pillowtop Mattress:

14 in 9 in

19 in

7 in Total Bed Height:

30 in 19 in

As you can see the typical bed height can be a large hurdle for someone trying to transfer to and from a wheelchair. The bed and frame are typical standard pieces. To ease access to the bed, staff has been trained to ask if there is a need or desire to remove the frame from the bed lowering the entire assembly to a more accessible height. 15

BASICS OF ACCESSIBLE ROOMS • Multiple turning ellipses • Outlets on both sides of the beds • Not only for their electronics to be nearby, but for electric wheelchairs to charge • Additional space throughout • For room visitors who might also be using a wheelchair • 42" entry door • Entry door actuator • Sliding bathroom door • Wireless window shade controls • Right and left handed rooms


Standard Guest Room




The preferred door for a person in a wheelchair is an automatic slider. When accurately timed, these doors provide the easiest access and less need for complex maneuvers. The main entry to the hotel contains a set of sliding doors. The secondary entries are standard doors but also utilize actuators to make access to the facility as convenient as possible. This hotel contains a specially designed front desk kiosk that has been shortened to not only allow a patron ease of access, but also allows the staff member working the front desk to comfortably work while seated in a wheelchair. A turning ellipse has been included behind the kiosks and all the office spaces have additional square footage included for individuals going through the training program to shadow all positions within the hotel.




Though mostly based on the Marriott Bistro standard layout, modifications have been made to the counter to include lower accessible seating. The community table has also been divided into both counter and accessible heights to welcome all to sit, dine, and socialize.



The pool space has been modified to include a larger deck space for access. The chair lift helps ensure the pool is accessible by anyone wanting to enjoy a swim. The main access steps to the pool have been designed with handrails on both sides to support people entering and exiting the pool.



This is where the training and education gets started! The Erskine Green Training Institute spaces are built directly into the hotel to allow students to get a hands-on, reallife experience, learning what it is truly like to work in the hospitality industry. Along with technical skills, they learn life skills as well including how to interview, use a bus system, pay bills, focus on wellness, and many others.




The entire hotel is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities. This includes additional space in the all areas to allow for additional users and maneuverability. The laundry facility also includes folding tables at different heights.





BARRIER FREE ENTRY DRIVE The hotel's main and secondary entries are barrier free. The vehicular drive surface and the sidewalk are at the same height and light bollards are positioned to allow plenty of access while also protecting the sidewalks from vehicles. By using different materials, brick and concrete, the drive surfaces and walkways are clearly differentiated.


The entry that connects to the parking garage has been designed with a large canopy to provide shelter from the weather for people walking to the hotel or being dropped off.


SERVICE DOG AREA Because some disabilities require the use of a service dog, it was important to provide easily accessed space for the dogs. A designated relief area is located conveniently just outside of the side entrance so owners do not have to hunt for a grassy area through downtown Muncie or cross streets to find a place for their service dogs.


CONNECTION TO COMMUNITY From the beginning, a large driver for the hotel was to provide support for conventions, increasing the marketability of the Horizon Convention Center. With the dramatic weather shifts often experienced in Indiana, a connecting tunnel was designed to bring hotel patrons directly to the convention center without ever having to step outside.



REFUGE AREA Due to difficulties with maneuverability, many individuals with disabilities have concerns when it comes to safe evacuation in the case of an emergency. Because of this, many prefer to be on the ground floor of a hotel. Due to the site constraints and building program, we were unable to accommodate designing any guest rooms on the ground floor. To compensate, we included a refuge area on each floor within the stairwells. This space is designed to hold occupants until emergency personnel can rescue or relieve them during an emergency. The stairwells are not required to have official areas of refuge, but we wanted to include a modified version for the comfort level of the occupants. These refuge areas include: • Space for more than one person in a wheelchair • Emergency lighting in case of a blackout • Phone for two-way communication • Large window allowing for emergency responders to quickly assess where people need evacuated and for individuals waiting to be assisted to know help is on its way




REMEMBER... As designers, we are trained to understand building codes and requirements, but it is vitally important to listen to and understand the end users. The buildings and spaces we design need to be centered around the people who are using them. From the beginning, we listened to understand. Because of that, we were able to address many issues that we never knew to be problems.


The most important test of the design was to listen to the Self Advocates and get their feedback on the building that was designed with them front and center. Take a moment to hear what they have to say by watching this short video:

Go to:



FORESIGHT Knowing what lies ahead means meeting and matching possible obstacles before they turn into potentially fatal objections. We identify stakeholders, recognize roadblocks, and align agendas to prepare the ground well before we clear it.


INSIGHT Knowing how our clients think and feel helps us understand their ambitions and empathize with their aspirations. We identify what people want from spaces and we use the resulting insight to design places that enhance lives and reward investment.


ON-SITE Knowing exactly what needs to happen long before we get to site means that being on-time, on-spec, and on-budget are fully realized. We don’t do overruns and overcharge. We do stay around to extend a supporting hand, and long after handover if needed. Better Foresight Better Insight Better On-Site 317.263.6226 Indianapolis, IN



We help Owners optimize their facilities and systems through analysis, design, and strategic implementation.





Architects K-12

Higher Education





Other Construction Administrators


Landscape Architects Interior Designers


MEP Engineering








BY THE NUMBERS Total Project Construction Cost

Total Project Square Footage

Higher Ed

Higher Ed

$472 million

Workplace Community Lifestyle

4.8 million s.f.

$214 million


$1.3 billion


Extended Services

Workplace Community Lifestyle

2.7 million s.f.


SERVANT LEADERSHIP Our core value shapes the firm’s extensive community service and teaches them to put the client first, to walk in the Owner’s shoes. That’s why buildings designed or renovated by Schmidt Associates reflect the goals and cultures of the client’s organizations — not the designer.

13.6 million s.f.

14,000 hours of community involvement in the last 10 years

Our staff has participated in over

*Numbers represent data over the past 10 years






O N -S I T E


415 Massachusetts Avenue Indianapolis, IN 46204

Profile for Schmidt Associates

Designing ADA for Independent Living  

A case study using the Erskine Green Training Institute and Courtyard by Marriott – Muncie

Designing ADA for Independent Living  

A case study using the Erskine Green Training Institute and Courtyard by Marriott – Muncie