Newsletter | Mar/Apr 2006

Andrea Palladio's Cornaro

February's Meeting - Universal Design

by Mimi Malayan

Our February 21st meeting drew a crowd of over 40 at Hafele's SF showroom. The speakers were our own Gilda Puente-Peters and her friend and colleague, Richard Skaff. Gilda and Richard provided an update of accessibility regulations, as well as common accessibility problems and resolutions, and a case study. It's always such a pleasure to feature a presenter from OWA.

Gilda Puente-Peters is principal of Gilda Puente-Peters, Architects. She has 25 years of broadly diversified experience in the architectural field, and has specialized for the last 18 years in accessibility and universal design planning, education, design, and construction. She has prepared numerous self-evaluation and transition plans for public and private entities, with an emphasis in cities, counties, educational facilities, commercial and correctional facilities throughout California. Gilda has assisted public entities with long range planning, development of policies and procedures to insure accessibility and usability of their facilities, programs and services by all people including persons with disabilities.

Ms. Puente-Peters has consulted, designed and built many accessible and barrier free environments that incorporate the concepts of Universal Design. She believes in Universal Design, that is that the built environment should be accessible to all members of the community. Currently she is a member of the California Division of the State Architect's Subject Matter Experts Committee to advice in the creation of the State's Access Specialist Program.

Richard Skaff has a 25-year background creating environments accessible to people with disabilities, and is currently the executive director of a new non-profit organization, Designing Accessible Communities.

He started his career in this field when, in 1978, he became the founding Executive Director of the Marin Center for Independent Living. He has served as a Chief Building Inspector for the San Francisco Bureau of Building Inspection. For 9 years he was the ADA Coordinator for the San Francisco Department of Public Works. In 1999, Richard was appointed the Deputy Director of the newly created Mayor's Office on Disability, which he helped develop and from which he retired in 2005.

Mr. Skaff has the unique experience of effectively implementing accessibility regulations in public entities. His responsibilities included overseeing the development of access code training for all City departments, development of citywide access policies, project design review and approval and resolution of public complaints regarding physical accessibility within City facilities.

Mr. Skaff has participated as a member on State and Federal code committees, including the United States Architectural Transportation Barriers Compliance Board's Recreation, Passenger Vessel Access Committee; the Access Board's Right-of Way Access Advisory Committee and currently is a member of the California Division of the State Architect's Quality Assurance/ Universal Design Committee.

Photos By Brad Borne

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