Columbia Honored for Accessibility Project

Lift allows individuals requiring assistance on the upper level of the building’s fourth floor to seamlessly access its elevators.   January 24, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor

Despite the passage of more than 30 years since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many institutional and commercial facilities still wrestle with accessibility challenges. From doors and restrooms to elevators, the most basic facility components continue to provide challenges to accessibility for all. 

On the other side of the ledger, one organization has been recognized for its attention to accessibility. 

Columbia University recently received a Citation Award for the disability access lift in the International Affairs Building from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The award recognized the architectural design of the lift. 

Designed by Richard Gonzalez Architect, the lift creates an accessible connection between the street level lobby and upper atrium levels of the International Affairs Building’s fourth floor. The lift allows individuals requiring assistance on the upper level of the fourth floor to seamlessly access the building’s elevators, and it allows individuals who enter the building’s main entrance to access amenities at the upper atrium level, including student lounges, an auditorium and connection to the Law School at Jerome L. Greene Hall. 

Individuals with accessibility needs in the International Affairs Building previously could only access the upper atrium level by exiting the building and using an interbuilding connection in the Law School building. 

Improving accessibility throughout Columbia’s historic Morningside campus is an ongoing priority for the university. Besides the disability access lift in the International Affairs Building, Columbia has completed several projects aimed to address accessibility challenges present on its campus grounds and buildings that were constructed over a century ago.  

Among the improvements include: permanent accessible ramps at Low Plaza, Lower Campus, and Butler Plaza; an accessible ramp and entrance into Havemeyer Hall; a sloped pathway leading from the Mathematics Building to Havemeyer Plaza; a lift connecting the Mathematics lobby to its building elevators; a limited use/limited application (LU/LA) elevator in Pupin Hall. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 25 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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