Student Housing Business

MAR-APR 2018

Student Housing Business is the voice of the student housing industry.

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PROJECT PROFILE March/April 2018 122 LCM based the concept for the 32,000-square-foot center on the principles of universal design to establish an inclusive envi- ronment that is welcoming and usable by everyone. Armando Tobias, project man- ager for the center, explains that the design sought to not just meet baseline accessibility require- ments, but to exceed them and then disappear into the back- ground. "We wanted to create a home, not an institution, for the returning veterans," he says. "The idea is that everyone uses the building in the same way," adds LCM Partner Richard Lehner. "There isn't a separate entrance for someone with a dis- ability and someone who does not have a disability." The group kitchen features base cabinets and appliances with drawers rather than doors, low work surfaces, adjustable height tables and a sink with front approach and knee clearance. It is a social gathering area that dou- bles as a teaching tool. The residences are located on the top floor for privacy and ser- viced by two universally designed elevators. The rooms and bath- rooms were designed for maneu- verability, flexibility and accessi- bility. Window shades are operat- ed by remote controls, and doors have automatic opening censors. Even the soft, indirect lighting was chosen for people with vision and comfort issues. The center embraces a holistic approach to meeting the needs of veterans through the physi- cal environment and special pro- gramming. The 14 residences are combined with 24-hour support. Services include health and life skills management training, peer mentorship, academic tutoring, psychological and career counsel- ing, rehabilitative and employ- ment services and social events. Students with and without disabilities embrace the center and use its services in increas- ing numbers. Approximately 140 student veterans engage with the center per semester, compared to approximately 30 students that came forward seeking assistance when it first opened in 2015. Goodman says he's thrilled with the strength and success of the program at UIUC and that it serves as a benchmark to other higher education institutions planning similar facilities. "I want to believe we had a role in chang- ing the trend by other universities observing what we've been doing here," he says. SHB The Chez Center was developed by LCM Architects, a design firm with a background in universal design. LCM specializes in creating environments that adapt to the individual, versus environments that require people to adapt.

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