As Mr. Bill Meyer began to work on the design of his new home with Michael Graves Architecture & Design (MGA&D), he found inspiration in the universal design resources that MGA&D has developed over the past years. MGA&D’s universal design principals are formed by Michael Graves’ research and personal experiences working with healthcare products and architecture, and are rooted in the belief that all design must be motivated by empathy for the human being occupying the space. Universal design should incorporate both innovation and accessibility, with solutions that are tailored to the specific needs of an individual but designed to be enjoyed by all individuals of all ages and abilities well into the future.

If this home will last one hundred years, it should facilitate all of the potentials that we can foresee for its use. That’s where universal accessibility comes into play. – Bill Meyer

With the opportunity to rebuild his home, deemed beyond rehabilitation after Hurricane Sandy, Mr. Meyer envisioned a living environment that would accommodate any individual’s comfort, safety and ease of access. He states, “We can’t predict the future… if this home will last one hundred years, it should facilitate all of the potentials that we can foresee for its use. That’s where universal accessibility comes into play.” To Mr. Meyer, universal design extends beyond flexible living environments – it’s about maintaining close family and community relations, contributing to an individual’s sense of place and helping to maintain a community’s cohesiveness. An individual’s mental and physical health, paralleled with the ability to age in place, promotes a sense of permanence. This all translates into the Meyer House’s holistic design approach to a homestead with increased function and usability – one that elevates neighborhood standards and embodies a sense of place and community.

The Meyer House incorporates thoughtful, inclusive design features that make the residence more usable for individuals of all ages and abilities. It will meet ADA requirements and is fully accessible. The requirement for living levels to be raised in order to mitigate flood risks poses a unique design challenge for an accessible home – to accommodate those unable to use stairs, an elevator rising all the way from the garage up to the roof deck provides barrier free access to all levels of the residence. Level door sills, wider doorways and hallways, and general clearances throughout the house make it easier for any person to maneuver within the space, and ADA compliant crank operated windows allow for easy operation. The universally designed kitchen has functional, handicap accessible work spaces and appliances, with side-hinged oven doors, an induction stovetop and open shelving. All of these features combined create a living environment in which all individuals can be self-sufficient.

The Meyer House aims to adequately respond to the diverse and ever-changing needs of Mr. Meyer, his family, his community and future occupants with meaningful planning for aging or sudden disability and a design solution that responds to the needs and wants of as many people as possible – not just the individual occupying the space. By providing Mr. Meyer with the ability to age in place, he can in turn demonstrate a sense of permanence within his community, now prepared for changes in life, health and environment that may occur.