Military Base Housing Adapts for Wounded Warriors

Retired Army Capt. Alvin Shell was one of several advisers on the design of the Wounded Warrior Home Project in Fort Belvoir, Va. Soon 19 more innovative homes will be built to accommodate wounded active-duty personnel. Photo by: Kainaz Amaria/NPR

Pair a few severely injured soldiers¬† with a renowned architect confined to a wheelchair and a design firm with a Vietnam Veteran as a partner and you get the team that designed the new wounded warriors’ housing at Army’s Fort Belvoir in Virginia.

National Public Radio took a tour of the new adaptive housing. It was created by architect Michael Graves who was left unable to walk after a bad infection and the design firm IDEO with partner David Haygood who¬† served in Vietnam and now lives with Parkinson’s Disease after being exposed to Agent Orange.

“When I was interviewed, I rolled in, in my wheelchair,” Graves says, “and I thought I had a pretty good chance of beating out the competition, because I was with the Wounded Warriors.”

From automated door openers to adjustable stove heights, the innovative home addresses a wide range of disabilities. There are obvious fixes such as wider hallways and doors to accommodate wheelchairs. But, there also are subtle design changes to help with the invisible wounds or emotional scars.

Huge windows and French doors are everywhere, so a resident can observe the surroundings, inside and out. That’s important for soldiers struggling with post-traumatic stress.

View a slide show of the adaptive housing and listen to the NPR story HERE.

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