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Celebrating accessibility

Facilities Management teams work together to support the Americans with Disabilities Act

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we are highlighting a few recent accessibility improvement projects on Grounds.

McCormick Road

A view of sidewalk and curbs on McCormick Road
A recent project to address accessibility issues along McCormick Road includes improved curb cuts, or ramps connecting sidewalks to adjoining streets. (Photo by Cory Paradis)

After years of planning, a project to improve accessibility along McCormick Road is nearing completion. The project — managed by Capital Construction and Renovations Project Coordinator Cory Paradis and Construction Project Manager Dale Newton — included the installation of two raised crosswalks and improved curb cuts, or ramps connecting sidewalks to adjoining streets.

“This helps make the University a more inclusive, welcoming environment for all, not just faculty, staff, and students, but also visitors, and community members, and helps to further our ideal as a university to be both good and great,” said project manager Cory Paradis, who also serves on the UVA Barrier-Free Access Committee.

The raised table crosswalks — located between Minor Hall and Monroe Hall and between Alderman Library and the University Chapel — serve as a traffic calming measure to reduce vehicular speed and increase visibility of pedestrians. The crosswalks also include additional signage and detectable warning surface pavers (with a bumped surface) that help alert those who are blind of the approaching roadway.

Construction & Renovation Services masons who completed these pavers were recognized by the Virginia Department of Transportation for the highly skilled work. VDOT officials captured photos and video of the work to be used in training other organizations regarding the proper installation of ADA pads throughout the state.

Additional changes to McCormick Road that support pedestrian safety include the restriction of vehicular through-traffic, including University Transit Service buses and Facilities Management vehicles.

The Lawn

This summer, Facilities Management teams have been working to make two of the rooms on the Lawn fully ADA-compliant. The project — managed by Capital Construction and Renovations Project Manager Amy Moses and Construction Project Managers Hans McInturff and Matt Pannell — was funded through a donation from Clint Heiden in memory of his sister Jo Frances Heiden.

Construction & Renovation Services trades completed the renovations, which included redoing the brick sidewalk between Pavilions V and VII in order to eliminate the step at the entrances to five West Lawn rooms. Adjustments inside Rooms 23 and 25 included reworking the plumbing to allow for more room underneath the sink as well as lowering the light controls and closet shelving and rods. The rooms’ loft beds will also be replaced with regular twin beds.

“This is a critically important issue and one that I'm thankful to have seen some progress on in the past few years,” said Moriah Hendrick, the senior resident on the Lawn for the upcoming school year.

This project builds on last year’s milestone accessibility improvement to the Lawn, which included the construction of two new permanent ramps between Pavilions V and IX. The project was advanced by UVA’s Barrier-Free Access Committee and completed by Construction & Renovation Services teams in spring 2019.

Daisy Maine laying brick and mortar
Construction & Renovation Services Historic Mason Daisy Maine and her team redid the brick sidewalk between Pavilions V and VII to eliminate the step to enter five West Lawn rooms.

“Now a disabled or infirm person can experience and traverse the length of the historic Lawn,” said Senior Landscape Architect Helen Wilson, the current chair of the Barrier-Free Access Committee, which is charged with making recommendations for, and providing oversight to, projects designed to improve access for persons with disabilities to University programs and facilities.

“Wynne [Stuart] shepherded many accessibility projects during her tenure as chair of the BFA Committee. The Lawn ramps surely are the pinnacle of her efforts,” Wilson said.

The project was recently honored by the Potomac Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. The group presented the project’s landscape architecture firm, Rhodeside & Harwell, with a Merit Award for Social Impact for its work on the project design.

Additional accessibility efforts

Facilities Management, the Office of the University Building Official and the Office of the Architect work closely together on an ongoing basis to support accessibility on Grounds in a variety of ways.

All new state-owned buildings must comply with the 2010 ADA standards and all renovation projects must allot some monies to improving accessibility (unless already fully compliant), according to OUBO Senior Architect Bob Waite, another member of the Barrier-Free Access Committee who helps ensure projects comply with regulations.

In addition to larger accessibility improvement projects, FM teams support these efforts daily. Customer Service Supervisor Stanley Speed coordinates FM’s response to concerns submitted through UVA’s Report A Barrier website, while maintenance staff respond to needed fixes and perform preventative maintenance.

“The maintenance staff in Health System Physical Plant and Operations keep important components such as door openers and elevators in top working condition,” according to Programs & Informatics Director Mark Webb. “FM and OUBO provide many levels of support to the University’s accessibility efforts.”

(Facilities Management Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Specialist Emily Martin contributed to this story.)

About the authors

Jane Centofante
Communications senior generalist
UVA Facilities Management
(434) 982-5846

Emily Martin
Diversity, equity, and inclusion specialist
UVA Facilities Management
(434) 906-5810