H+A in Boston: Freedom by Design


Designer Matthew Arnold spent weekends this summer volunteering his time to Freedom by Design; an organization he joined while studying at Northeastern University.

Freedom by Design is a community service program that utilizes the talents and skills of architecture students to make a positive impact on their community. Their projects allow students to learn a great deal about the building process as they experience a project from start to finish; students are responsible for finding clients, producing drawings, fundraising, and physically constructing the design.

This summer FBD built an ADA compliant ramp for a Dorchester family whose permanently disabled son was unable to leave the house. Continue on to read the full story behind the project.

  Upon the initial site visit to Dorchester the group [FBD] discovered that the existing conditions were less than desirable: a temporary ramp at the entrance of the home was not suitable for the family's physically disabled son, and tight site constraints didn't allow ample space for an ADA compliant ramp to be constructed. FBD explored many different ideas and solutions to the problem before deciding the best approach would be to come up with a ramp occupying the family's and neighbor's backyards. Getting approval from both parties was the next hurdle, but after working through several iterations, the group came up with a design that benefits both families: an ADA compliant ramp with combined deck.

Ten students, along with a local contractor, dedicated many weekends over the course of three months to build the proposed design. It was a team effort, considering that majority of students involved had never worked on a construction site before. After much blood, sweat, and tears, the project was completed: a permanent code-compliant ramp now allows the family to safely bring their son in and out of the home, and a large deck encourages both families to spend quality time outdoors together.

  Existing Temporary ramp + existing site


IMG_0652The team hard at work 

IMG_0658The finished ramp design – way to go Freedom by Design!