Michael Graves Designs Dignity for Wounded Veterans

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Front facade of the Patriot Home in Fort Belvoir. (Courtesy Michael Graves & Associates)

Front facade of the Patriot Home in Fort Belvoir. (Courtesy Michael Graves & Associates)

In speaking to wounded veterans and their families, the Wounded Warrior Home Project found that soldiers returning home face a cumbersome and costly adaptation to their environment. A private-public partnership, including Michael Graves and Associates, global design firm IDEO, and Clark Realty Capital, has unveiled two universally-accessible prototype houses at Fort Belvoir in Virginia where every element is designed for ease of use. Sinks and stovetops are on motorized lifts, halls and doorways accommodate a wide turning radius for navigating wheelchairs, sliding doors open with a light touch.

The front facade of the Freedom Home in Fort Belvoir. (Courtesy Michael Graves & Associates)

The front facade of the Freedom Home in Fort Belvoir. (Courtesy Michael Graves & Associates)

Architect Michael Graves, who was left paralyzed after an illness almost a decade ago, wanted the space to offer independence and dignity to returning soldiers. For example, the design team concluded through conversations with wounded veterans that the therapy room should be secluded from the rest of the living space to offer privacy and retreat; at the same time, the need for visibility inside and outside the house for security and to keep track of playing children necessitates wide windows and clear doors within the house. These homes are intended to be both starting points for future dialogue on accessibility and laboratories for continuing research as more accessible homes are built.

4 Responses to “Michael Graves Designs Dignity for Wounded Veterans”

  1. Jaime Cortez says:


  2. Tom says:

    I honestly don’t understand why designs like this get so much press? I know Michael is considered an icon and I ought to like his stuff, but I just don’t. After just reviewing the elegant design proposed by KieranTimberlake for the US Embassy in London, these designs seem to be just awful. Such a worthy cause deserves more.

  3. Expanding on Graves suggested designs says:

    These are suggested to be starting points in design for those requiring easier accessibility in homes. Add new electronics for operation of doors for those without arms or sight, kitchen appliances set in flip up containment areas that have electrical hook up built in, voice activated lighting or doors are also suggestions. Everyone viewing these, just consider them the initial building blocks for ideas to utilize when building.

    The higher ceilings are essential so people don’t have the “trapped in home” syndrome. Roofing elements incorporating less maintenance and with longest warranty coverage would be essential.

    Homes designed to incorporate the physical and emotional needs of those no longer functional in standard construction, need to be designed so all members of a household enjoy and function well in the homes.

    Keep in mind that 30% of the world population will be in their advanced years soon. These designs Graves has suggested, would extend living independently safer. Add design thoughts as multi-generational homes to Graves suggestions and you have a highly marketable design.

    Ideally the homes could be built off site and relocated. This would lower overhead cost factors, making homes financially set for the mainstream of the general market. Build the structures with maximum insulation codes to lower operation cost factors.

    Of course, the key issue is can an afflicted person generate the credit and income to build, maintain and keep home functioning over a long period of time. With homes as multi-generational, the financial side is more practical.

  4. Collective designing appreciated says:

    I would like to see designs others have designed, incorporating the upgrades of design for accessibility issues.

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