Sandy threw off the planned posts I was going to write over the past month, so thought I would compile a couple shorter thoughts for sharing today…
Designing for the Deaf
Some of you may recall that a while ago Gallaudet (a Washington, DC based school for the deaf) came up with some design guidelines for the deaf. There was a presentation at AIA in May about them. And recently Gallaudet built a dorm using those standards. The architecture firm hbhm architecture worked on these projects and has worked on some others, like the Dublin Deaf Village.
I really recommend thinking about some of the design principles they highlighted, since many of them seem appropriate to address other design issues. Maximizing natural light is easy on the eyes, which is important for people who rely more heavily on sight, but also could potentially reduce electrical costs and be more sustainable. The focus on clear sight lines and use of uncluttered visual clues to guide one through space could also be helpful in emergency evacuation situations. My favorite is the rounded corners, mainly because I have several times (as a pedestrian) run headlong into people when turning around a sharp corner.
Designing for Pets
As someone who utterly adores their dog, I am often thinking about how the spaces we inhabit are designed for people and usually only people. There are of course exceptions like Caboodle Ranch (which ended very badly) and Pratt Institute (although fewer of Pratt’s buildings allow cats inside than they used to). But considering that so many people own pets in New York City, I find it rare when pet ownership is really incorporated into urban design outside of dog park or open space design. NYC was rated low on the list of best cities for dogs most likely due to the comparative lack of open space, dog parks, and dog-friendly apartments. Increasing open space might be part of the way to better integrate pets into cities, but most pet owners would probably like better sidewalk design to prevent tree pit squabbles, better garbage management, more hitches so you can pop into the corner store, easier ways for non-car owners to transport your dog (Amtrak doesn’t allow pets for instance), and less litter. While I haven’t found anything on designing cities or buildings better for inter-species cohabitation, this project has given me hope that architects might get around to that. Also the chihuahua cloud makes me giggle.