Adapting Historic Buildings and Sites for Accessibility

Thumbnail Image
Supplemental Files
Major Professor
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Association for Preservation Technology International
Osterberg, Arvid
University Professor
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Organizational Unit

The Department offers a five-year program leading to the Bachelor of Architecture degree. The program provides opportunities for general education as well as preparation for professional practice and/or graduate study.

The Department of Architecture offers two graduate degrees in architecture: a three-year accredited professional degree (MArch) and a two-semester to three-semester research degree (MS in Arch). Double-degree programs are currently offered with the Department of Community and Regional Planning (MArch/MCRP) and the College of Business (MArch/MBA).

The Department of Architecture was established in 1914 as the Department of Structural Design in the College of Engineering. The name of the department was changed to the Department of Architectural Engineering in 1918. In 1945, the name was changed to the Department of Architecture and Architectural Engineering. In 1967, the name was changed to the Department of Architecture and formed part of the Design Center. In 1978, the department became part of the College of Design.

Dates of Existence

Historical Names

  • Department of Structural Design (1914–1918)
  • Department of Architectural Engineering (1918–1945)
  • Department of Architecture and Architectural Engineering (1945–1967)

Related Units

Journal Issue
Is Version Of
Both new and existing restoration and reconstruction projects now require renewed scrutiny due to recent changes in accessibility requirements. Removing barriers from historic (heritage) structures is not simply a matter of installing ramps and widening doorways, measures that often prove to be insensitive to the visual integrity of historic buildings. Recent enactment of new laws and regulations in the United States and Canada now prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Additionally, advocacy groups in the two countries are now promoting "universal design," that is, designs that work for all people, regardless of ability level. Universal design provides equal access for the entire spectrum of building users including hearing impaired users, visually impaired users, mobility restricted users, mentally limited users, people of short or wide stature, and individuals who have reduced stamina. Achieving a reasonable degree of accessibility in historically significant, buildings is especially challenging. • Unfortunately, design solutions that compromise the historic character of buildings are commonplace. When the issue is properly addressed with the expertise of a qualified team of consultants and designers, however, intelligent solutions are possible. An intelligent solution is one that achieves accessibility and respects the historic integrity of a building
This presentation is published as Osterberg, A.E. Adapting Historic Buildings and Sites for Accessibility, Presented at the Twenty-Fifth International Conference of the Association of Preservation Technology. Ottawa, Canada, October 1993. Posted with permission.