Colorado State University’s annual Barrier-Free Design Contest provides design students the opportunity to help break down barriers not only for wheelchair users, but for all of us.
The contest, in its 10th year, showcases barrier-free designs of buildings by teams of students from the department of design, merchandising and consumer sciences in the College of Applied Human Sciences. While the concept of barrier-free design addresses legal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, students go one step further by planning and designing structures that eliminate barriers for pregnant women, people with broken legs, people with baby strollers, those with permanent or temporary disabilities and anybody who appreciates greater convenience, comfort and universal access to buildings.
"The contest was especially challenging to students this year because design requirements included a first-floor retail area and second-floor residential housing," said Vanessa Williams, staff assistant in the Office of Resources for Disabled Students. "In addition, design elements needed to include overall effects the structure would have on the neighborhood. This year, the site was a parcel of land near Lee Martinez Park." Williams coordinated the contest with staff assistant Erika Burgeson.
Winners will be announced at an awards and recognition ceremony 6-8 p.m. March 20 in the West Ballroom of the Lory Student Center. All contest entries will be on display. The event, hosted by the Office of Resources for Disabled Students, is open to the public.
Awarded designs will be on display from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. March 21 in the Lory Student Center Sunken Lounge. The top five winning designs will be displayed all day March 22 in the Foothills Fashion Mall, 215 E. Foothills Parkway. Nineteen student teams competed for the top honors.
A judging panel selected the winning designs Feb. 28. Members of the panel included representatives from the local business community; the departments of design, merchandising and consumer sciences, occupational therapy and manufacturing technology and construction management; and the Office of Resources for Disabled Students.
The contest is part of Disability Awareness Days, which runs March 17-21 at Colorado State. The continuing awareness campaign, this year titled "Don’t DIS My Ability," is sponsored by the Office of Resources for Disabled Students.
For more information on the Barrier-Free Design Contest or other programs that highlight disability-awareness issues, contact the Office of Resources for Disabled Students at (970) 491-6385; or Brian Dunbar, assistant professor of interior design, at (970) 491-5041.