Narrative Box 4

The Spaces Between

The all-important spaces between buildings in particular are plagued by impediments — whether the small moments of a single step or two, or the sweeping challenges of a sloped walk that exceeds code limits and runs for hundreds of feet. At the same time, sitework and landscape offer some of the best opportunities to achieve universal access and can be far less expensive than renovation or building anew. Creatively manipulating a site can shape a system of access that everyone uses in the same way — raising the grade so that no stairs are required, for example.

That’s why it has been gratifying to work on campus projects whose primary motivation was improvement to accessibility in the landscape and circulation network that ties each campus together — offering the opportunity to solve for access in a way that also improved campus resilience overall. While every project is different in terms of student body, culture, landscape, climate, original design intent, character and so on, each underwent a systemic approach that looks at how the whole campus can benefit from improved access strategies. It starts by identifying areas of exclusion and ends with inclusive design that brings social and environmental benefits to all users, as well as economic benefits to the schools.