Norris Design Staff Discuss Going Above and Beyond with Universal Design Principles at CLARB Annual Meeting

Posted on October 19, 2021

Norris Design Principal Mary Estes, PLA, CLARB, SITES® AP and Associate Erica MacKenzie, PLA recently participated in a panel discussion at the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB) 2021 Annual Meeting. Titled Stronger Together: Designing the Future of Landscape Architecture Regulation, the panel focused on integrating principles of universal design that surpass minimum codes and requirements to create inclusive public spaces.

Moderated by CLARB President Cary Baird, the panel brought together members of the design community and the disability advocacy community to brainstorm best practices and practical applications. Speakers from the Arizona American Society of Landscape Architects (AzASLA) Board and co-founders of Peaces of Me, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on redefining what it means to have a disability, discussed designing equitable spaces as well as accessibility issues that result from adhering to ADA standards alone.

 If we want everyone to feel engaged in public spaces, we need to design and build an inclusive realm. There are a ton of universal design principles that go beyond ADA [requirements]. — Erica MacKenzie, Associate, Norris Design

Mary, Erica and other members of the panel also led a site tour of the Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix to analyze the design and accessibility of stairs, signage, surfaces and routes at the site. During the panel discussion, the group identified several opportunities for improved access. Additionally, the panel worked through questions like: “What role should technology play in the future of universally designed public space?” and “How can advocacy organizations assist with the design process?”

 I think the key to creating universal design that is useful and authentic is having conversations like the one we’re having today — where the design community and the disability community are bringing their collective knowledge to the table and problem solving together. — Daniel Hodges, Co-founder, Peaces of Me