On Saturday, October 14 2017, a team from Crosskey Architects and talented professionals from Downes Construction paired up to build an accessible ramp for a homeowner through the organization Rebuilding Together New Britain. In one day of coordinated effort, the team worked together and accomplished the construction of a handicapped accessible ramp that would allow the homeowner, Marian L. Macchietto, to exit her front door and navigate the several steps of grade change to her driveway.
It is rare, as architects, that we are able to construct our designs and actually see how they shape the experience of the people who inhabit them. It was a joyous moment when Marian exited her front door in her power wheelchair onto a new platform without any assistance, something she had been unable to do for the past several years. For the Crosskey team, it was a transformative experience as well. Working in the field, we were able to gain a better understanding of how an inch of clearance or a subtle change of slope can impact the accessibility and usability of a space.
By designing a ramp with a stable foundation, an appropriate slope, guardrails, and manageable transitions, we were able to not only build a better-designed, code-compliant solution for the homeowner, but most importantly had the privilege of helping someone regain a piece of her independence in the world.