Day One at Universal Design Summit 5

Today was a busy day in St. Louis at UDS5!

We toured three properties and a community space with universal design and accessibility principles throughout. We saw some great things and I took lots of pictures so of course I wanted to share!

6 North Apartments

All of the apartments are built with universal design principles so anyone can stay in any apartment and their fitness center had extra floor space for people to easily move around. Not only did they have traditional apartments, but they also sell business/apartment units for individuals to have a specific space for their business if they run them out of their homes.

I didn’t get pictures of everything, but here are a few features highlighted in the below pictures.

  • Interior and exterior apartment entry without steps
  • Large easy to open windows to let in lots of natural light
  • An adjustable table in the island to allow users to stand or sit when preparing a meal
  • Raised dishwasher and oven in the cabinetry
  • Roll under sink with the ability for individuals  to open and close cabinetry underneath if desired
  • Adjustable closet cabinetry
  • Easy to use washer and dryers

Leather Trades Artist Lofts

This is in a super trendy arts district in town and actually has several areas within the building for tenants to use studio space. Yes! Specific studio spaces for painters, sculptors, performers, and more. The space was open and had lots of flexible features for individuals to move around. Even better was lots of color contrast within the environment to help people who have trouble with their vision (counter-tops against appliances, walls against floors), as well as lots of great pantry storage beside a stove with controls on the front for easy reach.

North Sarah Apartments

These apartments were modeled after 6 North Apartments above. They are affordable for a wide range of people and have several floor plans. The great thing about this new community is the plan to build a community of sorts with lots of things within walking distance. This includes transportation close by, a grocery store, and walking path just to name a few.

Important things to note in pictures taken here in the main unit are rocker style light switches, low controls for heating and air, as well as a higher outlet for easier manipulation.

In the community space there were low workspaces, low storage, and easy to use kitchen faucet, as well as good color contrast between the floor and cabinetry to assist those with visual difficulties.

City Garden

Is a neat community outdoor space with sculptures galore that are approachable for kids and adults alike. I saw kids playing in fountains, adults climbing on sculptures, and people running and walking around the beautiful accessible landscape. Some things were done well and some things needed a bit of attention.

Take note of the following things:

  • Contrast of materials on walkways and landscape to give visual and tactile cues for walkways and pathways.
  • Ability for anyone to go up and touch/interact with sculptures without having to negotiate a step.
  • Most pathways were solid materials – and the ones with gravel were hard to move through in a wheelchair.
  • Edges of some pathways were raised to give individuals a barrier so they wouldn’t roll off using a mobility device, or can be used as a detection for those with visual impairments.


Whew! We saw lots of great stuff today and are looking forward to two more days at the conference.

More updates to come!

Published by

Sarah Pruett

Sarah is a registered/licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L) and a Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS), with a background in physical rehabilitation.

  • David

    Great sharing.

    I plan to join UDS5 but was not available due to tight schedule.

    I think some of the ideas can brought to my work in Hong Kong too!

    • Scott Pruett, M.S., CTRS

      Thanks for the comment David! We’ll blog some more, but stay tuned to Twitter, via the hashtag #UDS5. It’s a great conference so far, and yes, the information can definitely apply to Hong Kong!

  • Stephen

    Great photos, Scott! You’re my eyes and ears in St. Louis.

    • Scott Pruett, M.S., CTRS

      credit goes to my wife for those… but cheers :)