Archive for the ‘ADA’ Category


By Wheeler Cowperthwaite [CC BY-SA 2.0, GFDL, or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.



When Congress passed and President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the landmark legislation had survived broad, hostile opposition from business lobbyists who claimed its cost and liability would run companies into the ground. But with monumental effort and few exceptions, the law has succeeded in opening a once-closed world of transportation, employment, government, communications, and public accommodations to people with disabilities—and everyone else lived. Nearly all commercial businesses that serve the public have had to create full access and remove obstacles to their establishments. Design professionals, not least landscape architects, have been active at the core of this revolution, turning the law’s many dimensional requirements into reality as ramps, doors, railings, driveways, slopes, stairs, and all the rest. For most people, the law is a fact of life, and a welcome one.

“It is a civil rights issue, not a code compliance issue,” said Peg Staeheli, FASLA, a principal of MIG | SvR in Seattle. “Today we find most clients ahead in thinking about inclusive design.”

There are some retrograde types, though, who haven’t learned to live with the ADA. In February, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would significantly weaken the ADA’s public accommodations provisions. The bill, H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act, passed by a vote of (more…)

Read Full Post »


When everyone wants a piece of the same postcard.

When everyone wants a piece of the same postcard.

From the August 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Mather Point, a limestone fin that juts into Grand Canyon National Park, is the first overlook from which many, possibly most, visitors to the storied national park get a glimpse into that astonishing other world. In the middle of a short flight of steps down from the rim to the overlook sits a pair of large boulders. There’s often an informal queue at that spot. Every day hundreds, maybe thousands, of people wait to clamber up and have their pictures taken. Shot from below and elevated by the rock above the crowd, people appear to float before the geological fever dream of the canyon. Invariably, they spread their arms wide, like wings. These portraits make an allusion to flight—and an illusion of solitude.

A redesign of the access to Mather Point for cars and pedestrians, and of the park’s nearby main visitor center, was completed in 2012. It more than doubled the parking capacity. But attendance at national parks has soared since then, and already these new facilities are frequently overwhelmed. For the National Park Service system as a whole, between 2012 and 2015, recreational visits were up nearly 9 percent. For national parks in the Intermountain Region, attendance rose (more…)

Read Full Post »

From the June 2012 issue of LAM:

Rian K. Long

By Elizabeth S. Padjen

Brick, beans, and cod—you know we’re talking about Boston. But nobody bakes beans anymore, and the feds have clamped down on cod fishing. Now, even brick is under siege. In the country’s most famous walking city, the dominance of the venerable paving material has been challenged by the decidedly more pedestrian concrete and asphalt.

Leading the attack on brick sidewalks is the city’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities (CPD), which believes that clay pavers do not—and, perhaps more important, cannot—meet the guidelines established by the state’s access code and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Both codes require continuous smooth walking surfaces with no variations greater than a quarter of an inch. Although brick sidewalks are blamed for tripping hazards and obstacles to canes used by the blind, the most frequently cited concern is wheelchair vibration—a sensation similar to the buh-bump, buh-bump rhythm familiar to anyone who has ever pulled a wheeled suitcase over uneven pavers or driven over cobblestone.


Read Full Post »

From the May 2012 issue of LAM:

2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design

Ten ways the new ADA regulations will affect landscape architects.

By Daniel Jost, ASLA

A major upgrade to the fine points of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has gone into effect, and landscape architects will have to take note of the many changes that will affect their work. March 15 was the compliance deadline for revised standards of the ADA that were issued by the U.S. Department of Justice in September 2010. The new standards include a number of changes that will significantly affect the design of landscapes and public spaces and, in the process, make many more types of activities available to people with disabilities. (more…)

Read Full Post »