Redevelopment Plans for Lower Manhattan to be Recognized for Accessibility

Published: April 13, 2004
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WASHINGTON, Apr 14, 2004 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), a national veterans’ service and Disability rights organization, in recognizing the accessibility of the redevelopment plans for Lower Manhattan, is proud to announce that Fredric Bell, FAIA, will be the recipient of the 2004 Barrier-Free America Award. PVA introduced the Barrier-Free America Award in 2001 to recognize individual leadership in making America more accessible for all Americans.

It is estimated that the demand for accessible design solutions will skyrocket in the next 25 years as the number of Americans over the age of 50 increases to a total of 115 million individuals. Add to this the number of Americans with disabilities and our country faces a significant number of individuals whose lives would be enhanced through accessible design at home, work or in public places.

Mr. Bell, currently the executive director of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) New York Chapter has a long history advocating for accessibility issues in New York City. This includes leading his chapter’s efforts in its immediate and sustained response to the destruction of the World Trade Center and Lower Manhattan’s reconstruction. Serving on several councils, committees and coalitions relating to the rebuilding effort in New York, Mr. Bell’s knowledge and influence have been critical in bringing accessibility issues to the forefront in the rebirth of Lower Manhattan.

“Congratulations to Rick Bell, our City Agencies and other partners who have paid careful attention to include maximum accessibility in the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan, creating an Environment that is usable by all of our citizens,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Rick Bell continues to work with my Office for People with Disabilities to promote Universal Design principals and encourages the design community to exceed the minimum standards of accessibility.”

“Having spent nearly 40 years in a wheelchair, I realize that what may look like the smallest of barriers to most people can sometimes present major obstacles for me and the millions of other Americans who use wheelchairs,” stated PVA National President Joseph L. Fox, Sr. “It is through the work of individuals like Rick Bell that we not only create a greater understanding for the everyday challenges facing the disability community, but more importantly, provide the accessible solutions to these challenges.”

The ceremony, to be co-hosted by the New York Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), will take place on Friday, April 16 at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Sphere in Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Those scheduled to be on-hand to speak about their roles in the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan at the ceremony include: Michael Arad, designer of the World Trade Center Memorial, Kevin Rampe, president of the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation, as well as representatives from the Mayor’s office and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“Having the privilege to work for design excellence and Universal Design with many talented colleagues in New York City, both at MOPD, at the NYC Department of Design and Construction, and now at the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, allows me to accept the award with humility, recognizing that all significant change in design standards and building codes can only come about through concerted and collaborative action,” stated Bell.

Previous winners of the Barrier-Free America Award include Cesar Pelli, FAIA, the architect of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, for his design of the airport, and Bob Vila for his promotion of accessible design through his television show and web site.

Founded in 1946, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of individuals with spinal cord injury or disease. PVA is a dynamic, broad-based organization with more than 20,000 members in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. To learn more about PVA, visit its web site at http://www.pva.org/site/c.ajIRK9NJLcJ2E/b.6305401/k.BCBB/Home.htm

The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities serves as a liaison between City government and disabled individuals and organizations representing or serving New Yorkers with disabilities. The Office works with City agencies to make sure that the particular needs of People with Disabilities are considered in the development of City policies, programs, and services. For more information visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/mopd/