Innovative Housing Puts Universal Design to Work for Disabled Vets

Univeral Design housing for disabled veterans The Wounded Warrior Home Project will include 21 single-family homes designed to be comfortable and accessible for soldiers wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. Image: Michael Graves & Associates

The Wounded Warrior Home Project uses universal design to help disabled vets live independently.

We’re boosters of ageless design (aka universal design), the common-sense features that let home owners age in place and live more comfortably at any time of life. And we’ve championed our veterans, whom we believe should return from war without worry of a roof over their head.

So we were particularly interested in the new and innovative housing recently built on Fort Belvoir, Va., which is helping disabled veterans live independently.

The public-private Wounded Warrior Home Project was designed by wheelchair-bound architect Michael Graves and offers housing that’s both attractive and accessible for severely injured or disabled soldiers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two of the 21 planned single-family homes recently opened on the suburban Virginia fort just outside Washington, D.C. They include:

  • Automatically controlled doors
  • 4-foot-wide exterior walkways
  • Garages with 8-foot-high clearance for vans with wheelchair lifts
  • 62-inch wide hallways with boarders with contrasting tones to help soldiers with visual impairments or brain injuries
  • Removable base cabinets in bathrooms and kitchens
  • Motorized lifts to customize counter, sink, work island and stove top heights.

Graves’ design philosophy is similar to the age-in-place precepts that enable home owners to customize space to fit their evolving needs. “The functionality of the house must work for all family members, not just those with injuries,” Graves told “The Washington Post.”