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Honoring Ed. A New Trend in Architectural Design.

In 1995, a group of disability organizations joined together to find a way to commemorate Ed Roberts resulting in a universally designed, transit–oriented campus located at the Ashby BART Station in South Berkeley. The Ed Roberts Campus integrates accessibility and environmentally sustainable development into a beautiful and inviting environment that is a draw for architectural students from all over the world.

What makes the ERC different in it's design?

photo of kick plates in elevatorAccessible Elevators - not only do the elevators have the standard buttons but they also incorporate kick plates so users without hand control (or with their hands full of papers, laptop, notepad) can use their feet to choose their floor.


photo of the ERC rampEase of Emergency Evacuation. When the power goes out, elevators don't work stranding people in wheelchairs, walkers, with knee injuries... The Ed Roberts design incorporates a helical ramp that winds upward to the second floor, permitting easy and safe evacuation.  At the base of the ramp is a communal sitting area. Visit around noon and you'll find people of all ages chatting and lunching and enjoying life.

The Power of a Ramp
Dmitri Belser, ED of the Center for Accessible Technology and Founding Member of the ERC spoke to the Architectural Record about the power of the ramp. Not long after the ERC opened they had a smoke emergency and the fire department was called.”They got here pretty fast, thinking they would need a lot of time to get people out of the building. When we told them everyone had already gotten out on their own, they couldn’t believe it.”

Easy to Navigate. The ERC offers simple way-finding aides including colored and textured flooring, signage using specially designed fonts and high contrast interior finishes. Directional cues are an essential part of the design. The talking elevator and a water feature at the north end of the building help to orient those with visual impairments. Changes in floor surfaces will also tell blind people that they’re passing doorways.  The wide corridors allow wheelchair riders and others to navigate comfortably. Signage at different heights ensures that everyone can see where to go, no matter their stature.

Restrooms accommodate all ability levels. The ADA requires that public bathrooms have grab bars on only one side. But some people need a bar on the left; others benefit from a bar on the right. The Ed Roberts Campus has both types of stalls. The stalls are much bigger than any law mandates. There are private stalls to provide access to user and an aide. They even offer a private bathroom with a lift system so a wheelchair user can independently access the bathroom. Automatic doors with long-range senor cards and hands-free flushing, hand washing, and paper towel dispensers complete the access.

Clean Air a Priority. The ERC also focused on people with environmental sensitivities. The building has a state-of-the-art ventilation system. On the roof there are five large air handlers that run nonstop, taking in outside air. This air passes through dual HEPA filters, heated or cooled and passed through another HEPA filter before being piped into the offices. ERC building materials and furnishings were selected to meet LEED air quality standards, including the linoleum, carpet, glues, paint, and furnishings.

Links below for those that want to read more about the Ed Roberts Campus design concept.

About the Architects who designed the building

About the Environmental design features

The article in the Arch Daily

A Case Study from the University of Oregon

AECCafe Blog

An Elegant Tribute. Published in The Monthly

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