If you were to ask University Professor of architecture at Iowa State, Arvid Osterberg, how he became interested in the area of accessibility, he would be able to sum it up in just one word. Polio. “My interest goes back to my childhood when my brothers and I were stricken with the polio virus during the epidemic of the early 1950s,” said Osterberg. “I was fortunate not to have paralysis, but many others were seriously affected.”
He wouldn’t realize it as a child, of course, but accessibility and inclusive design would become an important part of Osterberg’s life’s work at Iowa State. In fact, it’s this work that’s made Iowa State’s campus one of the most accessible in the nation. “I take the approach,” said Osterberg, “that we should make every effort with both new construction and remodeling to go beyond the minimum standards to make our designs inclusive.”
So it should be no surprise that throughout the country, architects, interior designers, building contractors, code officials, and more turn to Osterberg’s book, Access for Everyone: A Guide to the Accessibility of Buildings and Sites with References to 2010 ADASAD for reference. He also emphasizes the importance of design that meets the needs of all people regardless of physical, cognitive, or cultural differences in his class, Design for All People, at Iowa State.
Osterberg is regarded as an expert in inclusive design and was recently presented the Ames Humanitarian Award that recognizes residents who help promote inclusiveness and equality in the Ames community. Although inclusive design often goes unnoticed by many people, Osterberg says inclusively designed areas are easier for everyone to navigate. With inclusive design, said Osterberg, “… it is easier to park; easier to find your way; easier to enter buildings; easier to open doors; easier to move through doorways; and easier to use restrooms, classrooms, lecture rooms, laboratories, libraries, and athletic facilities.” In short, everyone at Iowa State benefits.
At Iowa State, you could say we’re a little obsessed with making our campus accessible and welcoming for all. It’s just because we happen to think everyone who wants to go on an Iowa State adventure should be able to do just that. With no obstacles in the way.