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Archives > November 2013 > Modular Buildings: Protecting Campus Image and Ensuring ADA Guidelines

Modular Buildings: Protecting Campus Image and Ensuring ADA Guidelines

In the current financial environment, budget is paramount. Too many times the requirement for additional space arrives long before planning and funding for traditional construction can occur. As a result, space needs are often filled through using temporary or permanent modular buildings.

By: Ben Vizzi

The overall image of your establishment is directly related to the visual appeal of your facilities. That is why when using a modular building first impressions are so important. As you approach your new facility, the entrance should be strong, attractive and inviting. No matter how long a building will be in place, weak or temporary access is unsafe and uninviting.

Concrete access systems are part of the visual as well; site and code requirements must be met by these access systems, which need to welcome students and staff into the building. Luckily, there are preengineered modular precast systems available that are quick, easy and attractive. As an additional benefit, these systems can be relocated if the need arises.

ADA Guidelines and Temporary Structures
It has been over two decades since the United States Department of Justice enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This monumental decision has touched us all and confirmed its vision time and time again. Though always improving with additions and revisions, the basic theme has never altered: Remove all barriers for all Americans.

This essential task has never been more important than today with an aging and diverse population that deserves safe and easy access to all facilities. When you add baby boomers to the mix, along with the many Americans that have special requirements, this becomes an enormous segment of our society. Thus, we can easily agree that planning for access without barriers is essential.

Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) have been around for many years, and complying with these guidelines has become a regular part of every design, when campus planners are designing a new structure that will be available for public use. Unfortunately, this foresight was missing when many of our existing facilities were built, thus even today there are too many areas where barriers still exist.

Many of the buildings constructed prior to 1990 have been upgraded, updated, and retrofitted to meet the current requirements; however, many campus buildings remain inaccessible to some. This is a result of two factors: economics and logistics. Many older buildings have no space, due to their current layout, to accommodate a traditional access path. In short, unencumbered access may need to be accomplished by creative thinking. Remove the barriers in your mind and you may be able to remove the physical barriers. In other words, if a situation seems impossible to alter in order to provide access, consider changing the situation. Imagine the entire space as an empty area, and design your path of access as if you were creating a new building. This process often leads to a solution that not only provides access but is also aesthetically pleasing.

In addition, many privately owned buildings that are open to the public require expensive redesign in order to remove barriers, and the owners are sometimes not willing to incur the cost until it is required. This is economic reality; however, no matter the situationconstruction & planning by Ben Vizzi all responsible landlords of public accessible facilities should do everything in their power to ensure buildings are completely unrestricted. The same factors should apply to a temporary building. Regardless of your structure or the amount of time you anticipate occupying that structure, it should in all ways be approachable and accessible to everyone.

ADA Requirements for Short-term Spaces
This brings us to an area where there have typically been questions concerning the need for ADA requirements. Again, temporary buildings often turn into semi-permanent buildings. Even if the building is intended for short-time use and nothing more, campus leaders still must ensure safe and easy access for everyone. This access demand may arrive on the first day the facility is opened, so ADA access should be designed as part of all modular structures.

Of course, because campus aesthetics are critical, you want buildings and concrete assess systems that are visually pleasing-which lends a more permanent sense to the structure as well as filling the site requirements. Though professionally installed, pre-engineered modular precast systems are appreciated first for their ease of use and ease of transport, a carefully chosen product can also ensure that campus aesthetics are protected-thereby protecting your campus image.

When planning your next modular facility addition, always remember that the entire project is an extension of your image, so take careful consideration in your design for landscape and the approach to your building.

 

 

About The Author
Ben Vizzi

is the Lead ADA Exterior Access Code Specialist, with 18 years of experience, for Leesburg Concrete Company, Incorporated/Ramps, Steps & Rails. Ben's access analysis has provided many Public & Private Schools and Universities with creative and affordable access solutions. For attractive compliance examples, visit www.leesburgconcrete.com

 

 

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