Floura Teeter announced The League for People with Disabilities as the winners of our 2015 Community Grows Here contest in April. Since then we’ve met with League personnel to learn more about their campus, clients, and services. A recent tour introduced us to the League’s fitness center and therapeutic pool where participants dance, lift weights, and take swimming lessons. We also learned about how the League helps participants to develop employment, daily living, and computer skills.
It was great for us to get a behind-the-scenes look at the organization, but for people passing the League’s facility along E. Cold Spring Lane, the non-profit no doubt remains a mystery. The building is a single story brick structure with no prominent signage of which to speak. A sidewalk leads to an inconspicuous north-side visitor’s entrance, and the main entrance, the one used by League participants and workers, remains unseen on the south side of the building.
After our initial tour, and after meeting with League personnel and stakeholders, Floura Teeter performed a site analysis of the campus and identified a number of goals. Primarily, we felt it was most important that the exterior of the building reflect the vibrant community and welcoming atmosphere located on the inside. Our other suggestions included:
To achieve these goals, Floura Teeter prepared design recommendations, exhibits, phasing, and implementation recommendations. Along E. Cold Spring Lane, our recommendations include using native grasses and perennials to focus on the current entrance sign. We also recommend prominent new signage, a mural, and banners that will hang from the building’s facade. But these new plantings and architectural features will do more than enhance the façade, they will also direct visitors to the building’s main entrance.
In addition to the exterior changes, a revamped and rejuvenated interior courtyard garden will offer another amenity for participants, many of whom already use the courtyard to soak up the sun, exercise, join therapy sessions, or congregate and socialize. Augmenting these activities, the courtyard’s garden will provide a stimulating, year-round sensory experience. Yellow coreopsis, anemone, switchgrass, and joe-pye weed will afford bright colors and varied textures, attracting butterflies as well as songbirds.
Throughout the design process, the League has been responsive to Floura Teeter’s suggestions and has provided feedback and input. For our part, Floura Teeter has benefited by growing our expertise in designing for special needs. But what we’ve enjoyed most is working with League leadership and participants. Few groups are more worthy of having passersby know they exist, and our design ideas are sure to gain the attention that the League deserves. Meanwhile, League participants are teaching us about the challenges of having a disability, and how those challenges are often met with personal courage and strong community support.