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Deborah Pierce AIA (2011)


“It’s time to re-envision the American home! The house of tomorrow will be more user-friendly, and smarter rather than larger. Universal design features like open-plan living, zero-step pathways, and hands-free fixtures are becoming mainstream—great news for people with a variety of impairments and those planning to age comfortably at home!” – Deborah Pierce, AIA, CAPS

Full Biography

Deborah Pierce AIA
Principal, Pierce Lamb Architects
Women in Design Award of Excellence, 2011 winner

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My practice for 30 years has focused on public building access and custom residential remodeling projects. As national advisor to AIA’s knowledge communities I saw a vacuum in the profession—regulations alone do not produce fully inclusive environments.

All images courtesy Kathy Tarantola Photography

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I initiated the AIA 2010 Accessible Residential Design Awards program and subsequent independent research to identify cutting edge work.

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My book, The Accessible Home, showcases innovative environments where people with disabilities live with grace and independence. Since its publication my exclusive focus is on creating options for housing a changing demographic.

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The impact of my work is seen in the changed conversation about accessible design. “Beauty” is now part of the lexicon surrounding access—formerly one of codes and compliance. And “Universal Design” is more widely understood to comprise specific features, not simply prescriptive principles.

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Access loses its stigma as society becomes more inclusive. Where once I had to sell my clients on age-friendly homes, homeowners now demand that realtors, builders, and designers provide homes that grow with their users.

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The book has a cross-over market, connecting me with design and health care professionals nationwide. I’ve seen the “silos” that separate these industries grow more transparent, in recognition of the value in collaboration on behalf of shared clients.

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I’ve had the privilege of working with people who live daily with a wide range of conditions—illness and injury, sensory and cognitive impairments, complications of birth and aging. Each design and speaking opportunity has expanded my knowledge and sense of possibility.