At first glance, McCormack Baron Salazar’s 6 North development in midtown St. Louis looks like any other high-end apartment building with spacious loft-style units. But 6 North is leading a revolution in multifamily architecture: the incorporation of Universal Design features into every unit.
Universal Design is the concept that the built environment should be both attractive and usable by the broadest range of people, regardless of age or ability.
6 North is one of a handful of apartment buildings in the country to integrate Universal Design principles into every facet of its design. McCormack Baron Salazar worked with a prominent local disability research and advocacy organization, the Starkloff Institute, to bring the concept of Universal Design to fruition in a new, high profile development. All 80 one- and two-bedroom units at 6 North can accommodate physically challenged individuals (including people in wheelchairs or using devices to assist walking; those with sight or hearing impairment; and people with muscle weakness or arthritis) without looking too specialized or medical in the interior design.
Some of the Universal Design features at 6 North include wider doorways and hallways; paddle style light switches; changing colors and floor textures; kitchen island countertops that raise up and down at the touch of a button; and under-sink space that allows a wheelchair to roll in, but can be concealed with cabinet doors when not in use.
The building also includes retail space, “live/work” units, a community room and a fitness center with exercise machines designed for the physically challenged.
Even the smallest touches – full length mirrors, a small shelf outside each apartment door for residents to set down a purse or package – can have an enormous impact on quality of life for a physically challenged person, and yet be attractive and function well for anyone.