Rather than telegraphing “a wounded soldier lives here” though, these one-level, three-bedroom, single-family homes incorporate subtle accommodations far beyond basic disability standards, and do so in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
Through the public-private Wounded Warrior Home Project, Clark Realty Capital teamed with renowned architect Michael Graves to create state-of-the-art homes and amenities for wounded soldiers. The first two of 21 planned houses were completed last month in Belvoir’s Westlawn Village neighborhood.
Graves was selected through a nationwide design competition, along with IDEO, a design firm. Beyond his 47 years of worldwide architectural experience and his creative line of consumer products at Target, Graves brings a first-hand understanding of the challenges involved in accessible design. Almost a decade ago, an illness left Graves paralyzed from mid-chest down.
“The goal is to help individuals with life-altering injuries become as independent as possible,” he said, adding that maintaining the soldier’s dignity is a top priority.
For example, ramps are non-existent. Instead, wide, level patio entryways lead to automatically controlled doors, which remove the need to fumble with door knobs or keys.
Blending the indoors with outdoor visibility and accessibility is a key design element. Each home has a four-foot wide walkway around it so residents can go from the private back patio off the master bedroom to the front yard without navigating through the house.
Wide garages with eight-foot-high clearance ensure that vans with wheelchair lifts can enter and park beside another family car while still allowing space between for maneuverability. “Garages are an integral part of these homes,” said Casey Nolan, Clark Realty Capital’s Project Director. “They’re not a room forgotten.”
Consulting those who know
Beyond professional input, individuals living with severe injuries were also consulted on design, including Army Col. Greg Gadson (who is also known for serving as an inspiration to the New York Giants during their run to the Super Bowl in 2009) and retired Army Captain Alvin E. Shell Jr., both injured in Iraq.
In 2007, a roadside bomb cost Gadson both his legs and caused severe nerve damage to his right arm. Shell suffered third-degree burns over 33 percent of his body when he charged through a gas fire to rescue a member of his unit after a 2004 rocket attack.