Vermont Center for Independent Living Montpelier, VT

  • 1997—AIA New England Design Award for Excellence in Architecture
  • 1995—AIA Vermont Excellence in Architecture Award

A renovated 1940’s grocery store in downtown Montpelier, Vermont provides 100% accessible office space for VCIL, a cross disability organization with twenty-four employees.

The client’s need for accessibility, flexible office layout and the use of environmentally benign building products were seen as integral to a sound and attractive design solution.

The front half of the building was designed ‘without walls,’ leaving the storefront intact for views into the building (and to meet Historic Preservation requirements). Brightly colored sliding panels can be closed and locked in the evening to separate the entrance, conference room and toilets from the rest of the building; for daytime use the doors are pushed open to maintain the open plan layout.

Refurbished moveable workstations accommodate individual work surface heights and station layouts. Electronically operated, moveable bookcases allow access to any shelf for those with limited reach. Remote controlled, electrically operated windows and sliding entrance doors allow easy access by all. Wall colors were chosen as proper backdrops for sign language interpreters and orientation cues for the visually impaired. Varied ceiling planes provide scale and comfort for employees in wheelchairs, while flooring changes delineate spaces and assist visually impaired employees.