Oregon State University (OSU) is dedicated to providing universal accessibility throughout its Corvallis campus. The historic Memorial Union building opened in 1927, and is an important gathering place on campus. In its current configuration, the rotunda entry access poses challenges to complying with current ADA Standards for Accessible Design. PMA with our multidisciplinary team members are addressing how to improve the arrival experience starting from the Quad by focusing on the front door as the primary accessible entry, while retaining the buildings historic integrity. With an integrated approach there will be a primary travel path for all.
The existing limitations of accessibility to the MU are the existing ramps do not lead to the front entrance and the circulation through the rotunda requires use of non-compliant ramps. The existing exterior 1980s ramps were built interior of the terrace’s balustrade wall and access is not intuitive and requires signage. They take up significant portion of the historic terrace with circulation and railings.
OPPORTUNITY FOR INTEGRATING UNIVERSAL ACCESS
The renovation of OSU MU Rotunda provides an opportunity to highlight the integration of universal access to historic properties. The vision for a new accessible path is integrated into the highly ordered Neo-classical design of the MU creating a symmetrical entry on either side of the grand entry stairs facing the quad. The design seeks to reactivate the formal side terraces by eliminating the clutter of handrails and circulation space that currently breaks up the space.
The new accessible pathway will be a sloped walkway along the exterior of the existing balustrade wall of the terraces. A 4.5 % sloped walkway will be integrated into the landscape and will free the space of guardrails. This will result in greater visibility of the accessible means of access to the building and restore the original spatial function of the terraces. Another slope walkway will lead from the terrace to the front entrance and will be integrated into a tiered landscape and informal setting area. The new design will reactive the terraces by streamlining circulation and providing new seating opportunities.
PROPOSED DESIGN OPTIONS
Two design options were explored for this scheme. The first design option removes a portion of the balustrade wall closest to the grand entry. This would open up views of the entry and terrace to the quad and provide additional visibility of the accessible pathway. The second option would leave the balustrade wall in place and would create more of an intimate feel along the terrace. Below are renderings of the first design option.
We will update this entry as the project develops. Stay tuned!
Written by Hali Knight.