Universal Design in New Jersey

Universal Design and sustainability find a happy marriage in the "Better Home, Better Planet, Paterson Showhouse." The intention is to use innovations in solar hot water, ergonomic appliances and wheelchair-safe shower systemst to place this model project at the forefront of Smart Building Practices for seniors and people with disabilities.

(PRWEB) December 13, 2005 -- A vision of the future is rapidly taking shape in a residence being built in Paterson, New Jersey. Known as the Better Home, Better Planet, Paterson Showhouse, the three-story, 2,900 sq. ft. dwelling will serve as a design “clinic” for homeowners, architects and government officials dedicated to providing leading-edge accessibility and comfort to seniors and the disabled. Sponsored by BASF, the chemical products company, the home brings together over 50 organizations and the world’s most creative planners to serve as a prototype for universal design in the heart of the city’s aggressive 3,000-unit urban-renewal project.

Universal design, the art of planning homes to be inclusive of everyone, regardless of age, ability or physical status, is the wave of the future for architects, physical therapists and others. The “green” requirements of the Patterson Showhouse contribute to a healthy environment by using economical heating and cooling, solar hot water and automatic air ventilation.

Gary DeSantis, Senior Architect for BASF and project champion said, “The BASF Paterson Showhouse is an energy efficient, environmentally friendly home that demonstrates how comfortable the basic principles of universal design can be.”

New technologies are used throughout to improve energy performance. “Smart Building Controls” are the next generation of building automation. These allow lighting, heating and cooling systems to communicate with each other to make intelligent decisions. Expanded accessibility is provided by ergonomic kitchen accommodations and extra-wide hallways. Designer color schemes turn the functional into beautiful.

Incorporating universal design into the kitchen, laundry and bath
The Paterson Showhouse kitchen shines with new creations from Whirlpool. The Whirlpool Gold(R) side-by-side refrigerator features a convenient pullout shelf that allows people to steadily rest containers, including pots, while they are being filled. Whirlpool’s Duet(R) Washer & Dryer pair are pedestal-mounted to alleviate bending and stretching. In keeping with “green” requirements of the Paterson house, it allows homeowners to save 69 percent of water and 61 percent of energy, compared to average top-loading washers.

“One of the areas where safety particularly applies is in a home’s bath and shower facilities,” says Jeff Mooney, Director of Marketing for Best Bath Systems, whose fiberglass shower systems were used in the project. Alternate wheelchair entry for the shower is facilitated by a neoprene “water dam,” a popular Best Bath feature that eliminates the need for a cumbersome curb to keep water from flowing onto the bathroom floor. The water dam gasket collapses as a person or wheelchair passes over it, and then reshapes to prevent a water flow problem.

Safety rails or “grab bars” are installed to provide added stability and meet the physical requirements of the disabled or elderly user. Best Bath’s shower enclosures are constructed with extra-heavy plywood backing to facilitate the installation of durable grab bars.

“This project is a vision I’ve had for quite a while,” DeSantis says. “The best part is that all the technologies of universal design used in the Paterson model home are available to homeowners right now.”

For more information:
Jeff Mooney
Best Bath Systems
4545 Enterprise, Boise, Idaho 83705
Phone (800) 727-9907
Fax (800) 627-0929
Visit the web site www.best-bath.com

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