Barrier-Free America Award

2016 Barrier-Free America Award

Nominations we soon be accepted for the 2017 Barrier-Free America Award for outstanding contributions to accessible design. Stay tuned for more details. 

2015 Barrier-Free America Award Winner: Eleanor Smith

As founder of Concrete Change, Eleanor Smith had an unstoppable goal – in 1987, she advocated for a lift on every new municipal bus. It’s a fact of life that we all take for granted today. Her next idea, a zero-step entrance on every new house, is also an achievable goal.

Eleanor's unstoppable vision is to see housing communities that not only allow easier access for people who use wheelchairs but also benefit the elderly, blind, temporarily disabled, and even parents pushing strollers. Providing the most basic level of accessibility in our nation’s housing is easily achievable, affordable, and could improve the quality of life for millions of people. 

For her continuing advocacy for basic home access so that people with mobility impairment don’t feel imprisoned in their own communities, promoting visitability so a grandparent can see her grandchild’s bedroom with her own eyes, and inspiring policy through her unstoppable work with “Concrete Change,” Eleanor received the 2015 Barrier-Free America Award.  

Read at this link Basic Access in All* New Houses: 9 Myths and Facts by Eleanor Smith, Concrete Change

The Barrier-Free America Award, established in 2001, honors and promotes leadership, innovation and action in the architectural, design and construction communities for advancing accessibility—an advancement that improves the quality of life for everyone. Through their work, architects, designers, developers and other key decision-makers can play an extremely important role in removing the barriers that people with disabilities face everywhere, every day. Previous recipients of the award have included architects, business people, philanthropists and television personalities.

Paralyzed Veterans' Architecture program seeks to promote an accessible, barrier-free environment, advocating for accessible design in architecture and construction industries, helping to develop building codes and standards for the entire nation and serving on federal advisory committees to further define Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. These standards and laws extend beyond veterans rights; they benefit all people.

Past Barrier-Free America Award Winners and Projects

Ed Roberts Campus and DREDF 
Read the Story 

Spire Institute
Read the story

Nugent Residence Hall & the Disability Resources & Educational Services (DRES) Program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
read story

James Roth, The Treehouse Guys, LLC, & John Connell, special recognition award 
read story/view video

CBT Architects
John Adams Courthouse - Boston, MA
read news release
view photo gallery 

Antoine Predock, FAIA
Indian Community School of Milwaukee 

Marca Bristo and John H. Catlin, FAIA
Access Living Headquarters  

Fong and Chan Architects
de Young Museum

Edward K. Uhlir, FAIA
Millennium Park, Chicago 

Frederic Bell, FAIA
Redevelopment of Lower Manhattan

Cesar Pelli, FAIA
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Bob Vila
Bob Vila's Home Again

For more information about the Barrier-Free Award, please contact PVA Architecture at 202-416-7645 or