Bringing Universal Design to Life in Heart of the City

The Heart of the City design team has been testing out proposed new features like the benches you may have seen in Peace Plaza. With the number of people passing through public spaces like the plaza and 1st Avenue, the goal is to encourage the community to linger a little longer, even if it’s for a few minutes. The design had to take into account all the ways people might use each space and then come up with seating options to meet those needs.

Throughout the summer, the Heart of the City design team will continue to test prototypes, which allows them to gather community feedback and modify the designs so that they can deliver seating that you want and need. One of the goals is to create designs to accommodate all abilities. As a world-class medical destination, it’s important to make it easier for people with disabilities to navigate and enjoy public spaces.

Here are just some of the goals with the evolving designs:

  • Space for wheelchair integration
  • Space to park a walker or stroller that is out of the walkway
  • Various seating heights from one bench to another to accommodate different abilities
  • Ergonomic slope to backs of benches
  • Ergonomic inset below seat so your heels don’t hit the bench / for foot comfort
  • Standing height table/counter surface
  • Wheelchair height table/counter
  • Ability to lean against taller parts of the bench
  • Versatile orientation

So why test out the designs? The main reason is so that the community has an opportunity to influence the final result.

“We’re used to versions 1.0 and 2.0 when it comes to technology but rarely do we get an opportunity to engage and elevate our physical environments,” says Katherin Darnstadt, Founder of Latent Design. “Prototyping allows for this feedback to occur to continuously improve what new features will be introduced into the streetscape.”

For those of you who have provided feedback on the initial bench designs, thank you!  The Heart of the City design team will continue to engage to collect community input. And if you haven’t had a chance to stop by and check out the prototypes, we invite you to check out the modified version mid-June and share your thoughts with them!

You can learn more in our recent post, “Universal Design – Making the Heart of the City Open to Everyone,” on what Universal Design is and how it is used as a basis for the designs proposed for the Heart of the City’s public spaces.