From: Tom Schmitt <>
Subject: [accessibility_warriors] Milwaukee Idea Home

Milwaukee Idea Home.

The Milwaukee Idea Home, a project of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee with support from We Energies, Wells Fargo and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, is a prototype urban house that combines energy efficiency and accessibility with sustainable design. IndependenceFirst {}, Milwaukee’s primary nonprofit resource for independent living, is the owner of the home. More information about the Milwaukee Idea Home is available at a UWM-sponsored Web site. Visitors should select the Milwaukee Idea Home link in the upper left-hand corner of the page.

I had an opportunity to tour the Milwaukee Idea Home and was very pleased with the result. The overall plan is very open. No wasted space in unnecessary hallways. This allows easy access between the kitchen, dining table, and living space which is really one big open space. Easy access to the fridge when watching the Packer Game!

The home is completely accessible on the first floor with loft space on the second floor for an attendant, if necessary. The accessible entrance is in the rear where the over-sized garage is. The garage will fit an accessible van if necessary. The backyard has a patio for grilling out and the front porch (accessible from the inside) provides a nice place to sit on a beautiful summer evening.

Kitchen counters are low and very usable from a wheelchair, but not too low for the ambulatory. The area under the sink and cooktop are open to accomodate the front end of the wheelchair. In addition to a dishwasher, the kitchen also has a clothes washer and dryer. Everything is very conveniently laid out for ease of use. Even the light switches and wall phone are mounted at an appropriate height.

The bathroom is also well laid out. There is a wheel-in shower with lots of room for a bench or whatever appliance is needed. The toilet is well placed, accessible from 3 sides. The only suggestion I had was to add another grab bar for safety. In general, the house was designed so as to allow the addition of grab bars wherever they are needed.

The bedroom had a hospital-style ned the day of the tour with lots of room on 3 sides of the bed for easy access. The wall is also easily alterable or even removable if it is desured to increase the size of the bedroom into the fron entryway.

Overall this is an exceleent design and a very sound prototype. Lessones learned here will make future projects easier.

Tom Schmitt

Last edited by Carol Voss. Based on work by g.  Page last modified on December 09, 2004

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