Ellerbe, who reportedly spent more than $50,000 defending itself against the Justice Department, agreed to design wheelchair seating so occupants can still see when others stand.
After a highly publicized case, Ellerbe Beckett, who has recently designed arenas in Boston, Buffalo, NY, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Portland and Washington, agreed to design new stadiums and arenas so spectators in wheelchairs still have a full view when other fans stand up. In their case, the government said that the six arenas, all built after the Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect in 1993, did not provide adequate visibility.
Ellerbe, who reportedly spent more than $50,000 defending itself against the Justice Department, agreed to take into account the likelihood that some spectators will stand for part or all of events such as basketball games and concerts and to design wheelchair seating so occupants can still see when others stand. The agreement includes detailed measurements for the average heights of standing spectators and the average height of a person in a wheelchair to be used in calculating sight lines for wheelchair users.
In response to the ruling, Dawn O’Malley, a spokesperson for HOK Sports, commented, “We’ve always strived to design our facilities to be accessible to people with disabilities, involving them in the process and incorporating their thoughts and ideas. To our knowledge, every facility we’ve designed after ADA went into effect has adequate sitelines. It’s something we’re all very passionate about.”
NBBJ’s Michael Hallmark said, “While our earliest projects were designed with full site lines, a lot of time was spent trying to figure out if things like supplying electronic replay screens would satisfy the requirements. The Ellerbe suit became a very time-consuming issue for architects and other litigants. When it became clear early on the direction things were heading we started recommending full site lines anyway and our clients decided that rather than fight the rulings they would comply. The final ruling for us was very positive in that was very clarifying—what was an open issue for a while is not anymore.”