K+BB - December 2008 - (Page 62)

Access Heart and Sol Universal and sustainable design is at the core of one neighborhood With an aging population, accessible home design has been a growing trend. And with an increasingly knowledgeable consumer base, those trends have been moving away from anything that blatantly says “old” and are being replaced by refined designs that appeal to a wider audience. Nowhere is this more apparent than at Armory Park del Sol in Tucson, AZ. Designed by local homebuilder John Wesley Miller, Armory Park del Sol is an accessible community at its heart but visually isn’t what one might expect. “My intention wasn’t to develop Armory Park specifically for older people. In fact, I never imagined it as being specifically for one segment of the population,” said Miller. “My only goal was to develop an environmentally and walker-friendly community that could help revitalize downtown.” His goals were certainly met. Considered one of the most sustainable communities in the country and a winner of an AARP and NAHB Livable Communities Award, Armory Park del Sol consists of 90 homes built on land reclaimed from the Southern Pacific Railroad. The homes themselves vary in size, but extra-wide sidewalks that promote walking rather than driving buffer each house, and front porches that face each other enhance the neighborly feel. Mailboxes are centrally located, and a community garden furthers the friendly spirit Armory Park del Sol embodies. Winner of an AARP and NAHB Livable Communities Award, Armory Park del Sol in Tucson, AZ, comprises 90 homes built on land reclaimed from the Southern Pacific Railroad. Inside the homes, kitchens are equipped with user-friendly elements, such as paddle-style faucet handles, raised dishwashers and ovens and large knobs, to enhance accessibility for a range of homeowners. A similar philosophy informed the bathrooms, which have walk-in or roll-in showers. ACCESSIBLE BEAUTY Inside, though, is where Universal Design features can be found in unobtrusive abundance, proving that accessible design can be beautiful design as well. Step-free entryways and 3-ft.-wide door openings make homes easier to navigate. In the kitchens, paddlestyle faucet handles, raised dishwashers and ovens and larger knobs all add Universal elements that appeal to a range of homeowners as well as a level of sophistication to the homes’ overall aesthetics. To eliminate the need to navigate tub walls, bathrooms feature walk-in or roll-in showers, while dual showerheads contribute a touch of luxury. “I let the market dictate the amenities and some of the design aspects,” said Miller. “The plans evolved as we heard what people were looking for in their homes. Inevitably, it was wider hallways, raised countertops, things that would make living in the house easier.” For Miller, part of making a place easier to live also means making it sustainable. “It’s not Universal Design in the traditional sense, but making homes environmentally friendly should, I think, be a Universal Design trend,” he said. At Armory Park del Sol, eco-touches are everywhere. The cooling and heating systems in the homes are designed to be “zero energy,” which means they produce as much energy as they consume. Each house also has solar panels that generate electricity and help heat water. The homes themselves are built of concrete, which helps keep them cool in the hot Arizona sun. Energy-efficient windows, appliances and lighting are also among the eco-friendly attributes. “I don’t think enough builders have tapped into the Universal and sustainable housing markets,” said Miller. “I think for a long time there was such a stigma associated with Universal Design that it somehow meant you were old or that the designs were more suited to retirement homes. That’s certainly not the case.” OTHER COMMUNITIES Miller believes this so strongly that he has feelers out to develop other communities that would be similar to Armory Park del Sol. He has also started getting calls from other developers wanting to buy plots from him so that they, too, can give sustainable Universal Design a try. “I want to show other builders that you can build these types of homes and do good things, while still making a profit,” said Miller. “At the same time, I would love to walk into a room of homebuilders, designers, architects and have someone else stand up and say they have built the most energy-efficient community. I don’t want to be the lone man standing.” s —Alexis Barnes 62 + K BB December 2008 / www.kbbonline.com / The Official Sponsor of K/BIS www.kbis.com http://www.kbbonline.com http://www.kbis.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of K+BB - December 2008

K+BB - December 2008
Contents
Online Contents
Online News
Editorial
Dates
Focus
Trends
Product Innovator Awards
Products
Options
Profile
Abroad
Design
Linear Thinking
Miami Heat
Green
Access
Additions
Practice
Editorial Index
Ad Index
Favorites

K+BB - December 2008

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