Architecture students give disabled family home makeover
Courtesy of UTK Media Relations
Two Freedom by Design members, Matthew Barnett and Jarod Dotson, construct part of the deck for the Skeen family.
published: May 28 2013 09:21 PM updated:: May 29 2013 10:32 AM

Architecture students at the University of Tennessee put their skills to the test as they remodeled the home of a family with disabilities in Knoxville to improve their quality of life and mobility around their home.

This project was led by UT’s Freedom by Design team, a student service organization part of the American Institute of Architecture Students.

These students began drafting plans to give wheelchair access to the home in January. After several months of planning, they began construction on May 1.

I believe this project is a good thing for students to be involved in because not only is it valuable design and construction experience, but it is also a great way to contribute to the community.  Melissa Dooley, treasurer for UT's Freedom by DesignAccording to Melissa Dooley, treasurer for UT’s Freedom by Design, the project will provide a new deck and wheelchair accessible gardens for the Skeen family, which suffers from several medical conditions.

Wanda Skeen and her daughter, Stacy, both have disabilities. Wanda has had cancer, a stroke and an open-heart surgery while Stacy has suffered brain damage.

"We have designed an accessible pathway that leads from the driveway up to the back door. The design includes a covered back deck at the entrance and a deck that wraps around to the side of the house. There will be a bench and two planters made of railroad ties for gardening from a wheelchair,” Dooley said.

Dooley said Freedom by Design gives architecture students a chance to apply what they have learned in school and use it to help those who really need it.

“I enjoy working with Freedom by Design because it has a real-world impact and helps those who are disabled experience architecture in a positive and safe way through careful and thoughtful design strategies," Dooley said. "I aspire to use this concern for the disabled in my professional work in the future. I believe this project is a good thing for students to be involved in because not only is it valuable design and construction experience, but it is also a great way to contribute to the community.”

Funds for the project were raised through an AIAS fundraiser last fall, and many East Tennessee businesses donated money and resources for the renovations. These include Tennessee Stone, Sequatchie Concrete, Acadia Landscape, JRC Company and GEOConex.

The project was estimated to be completed by Wednesday, May 22.

 

Editor: Jennifer Brake

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Story Images The deck designed by UT students will wrap around the Skeen family's home providing them with wheelchair access at the front and back doors.
Courtesy of UTK Media Relations
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