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Architecture Professor to Develop Affordable, Accessible Housing for Arkansas

UA architecture professor Korydon Smith wants to open the door to independent living to everyone. The key to accomplishing this task lies in a new program led by Smith, the University of Arkansas Universal Design Project. Initiated by the Governor’s Task Force on Supported Housing and funded by Arkansas Rehabilitative Services and other agencies, the program is a pioneering attempt to develop accessible housing standards, design prototypes and enact policy changes at the state level.

“Arkansas is the first state to take this proactive approach, and we’re hoping it can become a national model,” Smith said. “Our state leads the nation with the highest poverty rate and third highest disability rate, so it’s essential that we provide affordable, inclusive housing for everyone,” he added.

Smith began last summer with demographic and economic research coupled with travel across Europe, where the most innovative responses to accessibility and affordability are taking place. This extensive research laid the ground work for the heart of the project, the development of inclusive design standards for the state of Arkansas. Smith plans to collaborate with a host of professionals, including architects, engineers and developers, as well as representatives from groups such as Habitat for Humanity and People with Disabilities. Once the standards are drafted, Smith will work with state officials to develop policies and tax incentives that support the construction of affordable, fully accessible housing. Eventually, working with the state of Arkansas, he plans to design prototypes for single and multi-family residences.

Smith hopes to craft innovative solutions that will place Arkansas in the vanguard of the inclusive design movement.

“My long-term hope for the prototypes is that they’re transformative – something that’s adaptable to changing site conditions, urban or rural contexts, diverse users and social contexts, and local materials,” he said.

Other goals for the project include the publication of a state resource manual, development of training workshops and presentations, and the establishment of a center for inclusive design at the University of Arkansas.

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