Story by Gary Arnold
CHICAGO— In late July, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded Access Living’s building at 115 West Chicago Avenue Gold LEED Certification. Gold LEED is a landmark sustainability award; the second highest rating a green building can receive. LEED is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance sustainable green buildings.
In March 2007, Access Living moved into a new state-of-the-art facility, built by and for people with disabilities. The building serves as headquarters for the renowned community organization and stands as a model for the integration of Universal and Green design.
Sustainable elements of Access Living’s building include:
- A green roof that includes vegetation that is native to the Chicago area and is self sustaining, using little or no irrigation, fertilizer or pesticides;
- Daylight harvesting, occupancy sensors and efficient lighting that reduce energy consumption by at least 25%;
- Natural daylight available to at least 75% of all occupied spaces;
- Shade and lighting controls automated with integration to daylight sensors;
- Low-emitting materials that eliminate air contaminants that may be irritating or harmful to the comfort of the occupants, including paint, adhesives, solvents and carpet;
- Proximity to multiple lines of accessible, public transportation.
In addition to Green Design, all aspects of the building, which was designed by LCM Architects, incorporate Universal Design. Universal Design goes beyond accessible design, which often segregates users by creating one space that is for people with disabilities and another space for other users. Universal Design seeks to re-conceive fundamental architectural ideas and build spaces that accommodate everyone. With Access Living’s new building, everything from the lighting to the surface of the floors was deliberately chosen to effectively accommodate the widest range of disabilities in ways that are not noticeable and work for everyone.
The design team included Jack Catlin, an LCM partner who was the first practicing architect to serve as chair of the U.S. Access Board, and is an expert in accessibility compliance and Universal Design.
Under the leadership of Marca Bristo, Access Living’s President and CEO; Henry T. Chandler, Jr.; and Access Living’s Board of Directors, over 60 percent of whom have disabilities, spearheaded an $18 million Capital Campaign that was successful through a mix of federal, state and private donors.
Access Living assembled a first-class development team to design and build Access Living’s new headquarters, including: the Illinois Facilities Fund, Cotter Consulting Inc. and LCM Architects. Pro-bono legal assistance for the project was provided by Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. The general contractor for the project was Michuda Construction Inc. Other consulting engineers on the project included: 20/10 Engineering; Baker Robbins & Company; Environetx; Eriksson Engineering Associates; Lerch, Bates & Associates; Sieben Energy Consultants; Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers; and Wolfe, Clements and Associates.
Since 1980, Access Living has fought for the full integration of people with disabilities into community life, and has played a leading role in the drafting and the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, improved accessibility on mainline public transportation in Chicago, and improved accessibility within the Chicago Public School System. The new building will ensure that Access Living can continue its important work such as advocating for equal education, creating more integrated, affordable housing, while developing innovative new programs to address evolving issues within a diverse community.
For more information, contact Gary Arnold at 312-640-2199 (voice) or 312-640-2102 (TTY).
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