WHEELCHAIR-BOUND architect Erick Mikiten of Berkeley, Calif.-based Mikiten Architecture understands firsthand the importance of designing comfortable living spaces that meet a variety of needs. As a result, no detail was spared in the development of Lincoln Oaks Apartments, an 11-unit affordable rental community in Fremont, Calif., for adults with developmental disabilities—many of whom are living on their own for the first time.

Independence is encouraged particularly through the innovative design of the common spaces. For example, an interior ramp leading to the second floor is both attractive and incredibly useful to residents, especially for egress in case of an earthquake or other emergency.

Tremendous upfront planning helped the developers, Oakland, Calif.-based Housing Consortium of the East Bay and Berkeley, Calif.-based Satellite Housing, achieve their goal despite operating on a tight budget. The property, which offers one- and two-bedroom units to individuals earning between 30 percent and 50 percent of the area median income, was fully occupied in March 2007.

Not shown in the photos below are additional accessible features:

  • Electrical outlets installed above the front doors of each unit allow for future installation of remote-control automatic door operators.
  • Ground-floor bathrooms feature roll-in showers with linear drains, eliminating leakage of water onto the bathroom floor.
  • Adjustable-height countertops and removable base cabinets in the kitchen allow for those in wheelchairs to easily navigate the space; bathrooms offer wall-mounted sinks for roll-under access.