Designing the Ideal Home for ‘Wounded Warriors’ for Clark Realty Capital

Making housing truly accessible for disabled U.S. military veterans and their families

Most injured U.S. service men and women returning from war must adapt to a home, even if it complies with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. The soldiers find workarounds to cope with their surroundings based on individual capabilities and preferences. Clark Realty Capital believed there had to be a better solution. The Virginia-based real estate firm, which is partnered with the Department of Defense on more than $4.7 billion of privatized housing for service members, collaborated with IDEO on a new model for building accessible homes on military installations.

The challenge was to visualize and design the ideal home for soldiers injured in the field. The effort included floor plans and amenities that would not only meet or exceed ADA standards, but also be versatile enough to accommodate varied physical and psychological needs. Clark commissioned Michael Graves & Associates to develop architectural plans for two concept homes, which needed to support family dynamics and rituals and be able to evolve over time and with technology.

The IDEO design team took an in-depth look at accessibility issues, interviewing and observing 10 civilians and 20 injured soldiers with different needs, meeting with their loved ones, and getting feedback from nearly two dozen experts. The team asked questions that shed light on how active duty service members resume civilian life after debilitating injuries, what could make their experience more dignified and healthy, and what might reconnect them with family, close friends, and the world. Ultimately, IDEO and Clark went well beyond understanding soldiers’ physical limitations to consider their cognitive and emotional challenges and needs as well.

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Project date: 2011