Universal Design

Gold Winner
Doug Walter Architects, Denver, Colo.

Silver Winner:
Abbie Joan Enterprises
Naples, Fla.

After successfully raising four children, the youngest of whom had just left home to join the U.S. Marines, Jeff and Lauren Marmaro realized they had plenty of parenting left in them, so they decided to adopt — four more children. They brought in three brothers and sister who need some TLC; two of the boys have muscular dystrophy.

An issue they faced was that there was no way to get the electric wheelchair into the home, so the boys had to leave them in the garage and crawl into the home. Soon enough, they found a used stair lift to transport the boys down to their basement bedrooms. However, the basement had hardly any light with just a few small, high-basement type aluminum sashes. Although there was a bathroom on this level, the bath was not accessible and toothbrushing took place sitting on the floor.

With the difficult living situation they were in, they were always in high spirits — until Jeff lost his job in a corporate reorganization. Then the Home Builders Foundation, of the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver were called and asked if they could help install a ramp into the house, widen the doors and make an existing bath more accessible.

In this situation, the association proved that their motto — “never give people what they want, give more” — was true in every way. With this universal design project, they increased the footprint by 500 sq. ft., which resulted in a new suite for the boys located right off of the family room. They also installed three ramps into the home, a fully accessible bath with roll-in shower and an overhead hoist to move the boys when they were not in their chairs.

The other two siblings were not forgotten — as they both got big, airy window wells for the basement bedrooms and also more space with the other two upstairs.

This addition, built entirely from donated materials and labor, was provided to the Marmaro family at no cost. Both the builders and architect provided their services pro bono.

SILVER: Abbie Joan Enterprises
Naples, Fla.