Winners announced for Mayor’s Awards for Universal Design in Architecture in Edmonton

The Mayor’s Awards aim to promote awareness of the need for accessibility, services and employment for individuals with disabilities. Presented annually, these Awards recognize individuals, organizations or businesses within Edmonton that demonstrate a commitment to persons with disabilities.

They are given to a project team or architect whose designs or projects demonstrate creative sensitivity toward the accessibility of persons with disabilities. This includes any building or outdoor space that completed construction or has undergone extensive renovations anytime during the previous year. In choosing the award recipients, the selection committee sought adherence to relevant items as noted in the Advisory Board Checklist for Accessibility and Universal Design, Section 3.7 of the Building Code, and the Barrier-Free Design Guide.

The winner in the Residential category is the Peter Mittal Home by Ron Wickman. Mittal’s original home was a corner-split home with a three-car garage. Now it features an accessible suite built over the garage which is visitable, has an elevator and two washrooms with curbless showers. An accessible kitchen was built with lower counters open beneath the sink. A cooktop with a wall oven, lower light switches and higher electrical outlets as well as higher baseboards help protect the walls. Mittal commented that he built the home with the idea that his aging parents could move into the accessible suite and he and his family could live in the main house. Thinking into the future, Mittal even considered that he could live in the accessible suite while his grown daughters could take over the main house.  

In the Non-Residential category, two projects were honoured. Since 2011, the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) has been expanding the 463,000-square-foot terminal, representing a 50% increase in size. Designed by Stantec, the new space includes new retail outlets, new seating options, children’s play areas and art installations. There are three new free TTY modems that have been installed, and brighter consistent matte signage has been installed, along with larger and more accessible washrooms and six moving sidewalks. A new public address system is available with future capability for text messaging. The expansion created larger spaces with better acoustics and brighter areas which now caters to all people of all abilities.

The second project in this category to be recognized is the Commonwealth Community Recreation Centre by Kasian Architect (formerly HIP Architects) and MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects.

Reopened on March 13, 2012, this 220,000-square-foot facility was a retrofit and expansion of the original Commonwealth Fitness Centre that was located on the same site. An all-inclusive centre that offers a wide range of recreational, fitness, wellness and social experiences in both casual and structured capacities, users of all ability levels are able to enjoy aquatics, artificial turf sports, batting-cage practice, gym workouts, fitness classes, and indoor track and community events all under one roof.

In the category entitled Residential or Non-Residential Facility Specifically Designed for Persons with Disabilities, two projects won awards. Valour Place by architect William H. Ross is a new ground-up facility intended as a temporary home away from home for all Canadian Forces members, families of the fallen, veterans and RCMP along with their extended families who require medical treatment in Edmonton. Through Valour Place, they now have the means to face the challenges inherent in their road to rehabilitation in a warm, welcoming and supportive environment. Valour Place is a barrier-free facility that features 12 bedrooms and all the comforts of home, including a spacious kitchen, dining and living room, and recreation room. This 9,200-square-foot facility is the first of its kind in Canada. Universal design principles were at the forefront of all design considerations. While the building meets or exceeds all barrier-free requirements to ensure ease of mobility, the overall design sensibility evokes the principles of a beautiful, single-family residential home rather than a typical institutional approach to rehabilitation. 

Also receiving an awards is the Kaye Edmonton Clinic by DIALOG and RTKL, a project unique to Alberta that provides coordinated diagnostic and specialist ambulatory services to patients and their families in a fully integrated facility. Patients will benefit from seamless, outpatient clinical care and streamline access to specialized services and specialists. The Clinic is a partnership between Alberta Health Services and the University of Alberta, providing unprecedented educational and research opportunities to learn and practice in interdisciplinary teams. 

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