SF State News {University Communications}

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Campus commitment to inclusive landscape garners national award

May 28, 2008 -- The University’s Accessible Landscapes Project has received a national award from the American Physical Plant Administrator’s Association (APPA) for its multifaceted commitment to the accessibility of SF State’s campus.

Initiated in the early 1990s to create a more welcoming, user-friendly campus, the ongoing Accessible Landscapes Project includes the use of gently sloping pathways as primary, rather than secondary paths; height- and width-adjustable furniture; and Sound Web, a series of wind chimes that provide visually impaired people with audible cues, helping them navigate the campus.

The APPA’s Effective and Innovative Practices Award recognized the project for enhancing the inclusive campus. The award includes a $4,000 grant and special recognition in APPA’s Facilities Manager magazine, and is part of the organization’s mission to elevate the value and recognition of facilities in education.

Photo by Mike Day of a Sound Web audible landmark unit marking the entrance to campus from 19th Avenue.

A Sound Web audible landmark unit marks the entrance to campus from 19th Avenue. Photo credit: Mike Day

"Inclusiveness is a hallmark of a mature and forward-looking institution and certainly of the pre-eminent urban university," said Phil Evans, director of campus grounds. "It takes effort, creativity and determination to develop a new idea well, and we have succeeded thanks to the many individuals who have contributed energy and thought to this goal."

The project draws on student contributions in all aspects, including initial brainstorming, conceptual design, construction modeling, project management, publications, outreach and focus groups. The collaboration between staff, faculty and students includes the Department of Special Education, the Disability Programs and Resource Center, the Department of Design & Industry, the School of Engineering and the Universal Seating Design Studio, a program which formulates new ideas each year.

Senior Josh Williams, who has worked with many of his classmates on the Accessible Landscapes Project, takes pride in his work maintaining the Sound Web on campus. "People enjoy them as cultural objects," said Williams, who has worked with the project since 2006. “The intention was to have them also be enjoyable to see. It's for way-finding, but this brings it to a whole other level. I find that rewarding."

The various ongoing projects also employ new sustainable technologies: solar power, recycled plastic lumber and other special means of enhancing environmental stewardship.

-- Student Writer Lisa Rau with Nan Broadbent


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