Design for the Multi-Impaired


Many subtleties were used to make this maintenance-free dormitory and school for the multiply impaired look like a residence and not a hospital; notice that the window side-lites look like shutters, notice the gabled roofs and copper gutters, and see how the use of porches, railings, and chimneys changes the scale and approach-ability of the building.


Many subtleties were used to make this maintenance-free dormitory and school for the multiply impaired look like a residence and not a hospital; notice that the window side-lites look like shutters, notice the gabled roofs and copper gutters, and see how the use of porches, railings, and chimneys changes the scale and approach-ability of the building.

When asked to design a prototype for a facility for multiply impaired children, Dennis Kowal Architects created a two-level house-like facility and even added a two car garage that acts as a covered ambulance transport during emergencies and as a weather-enclosed recreation room the remainder of the time.The St. Joseph’s Sisters of Peace operate Concordia House as a school and dormitory for children with both blindness and other disabilities.Their desire was a non-institutional building that provided warmth and comfort to the children and their visiting families.

A number of ground-breaking ideas were incorporated into the design including a two-tone wood trim way-finding which was stained to signal which floor you are on, touch and color panels to identify rooms when a child is unable to learn braille, and specially designed bathrooms that facilitate self-care.A commercial kitchen serves the dining hall but the kitchen was conceived as a training kitchen as well, with low-height baking stations and a dine-in area for the students to enjoy.

Ease of access and safety were high priorities in the design which has four grade exits, an elevator, and extra wide corridors. 


Ease of access and safety were high priorities in the design which has four grade exits, an elevator, and extra wide corridors. 

For those with partial vision, dark stained doors identify the lower level and light doors with dark trim to identify the upper level. Custom sconces also were designed to compliment the theme.


For those with partial vision, dark stained doors identify the lower level and light doors with dark trim to identify the upper level. Custom sconces also were designed to compliment the theme.

The lattice theme and playful green tiles add a little fun to this facility for blind and disabled children.


The lattice theme and playful green tiles add a little fun to this facility for blind and disabled children.

Inserts next to each bedroom door have uniquely different colors and textures so that the most severely impaired students can still identify their room.


Inserts next to each bedroom door have uniquely different colors and textures so that the most severely impaired students can still identify their room.

Natural light, plants, and a variety of locations to train for cooking, cleaning, and independent living are combined in this 17 bed facility.


Natural light, plants, and a variety of locations to train for cooking, cleaning, and independent living are combined in this 17 bed facility.

Dennis Kowal Architects is an advocate for the developmentally
disabled and designs for their needs.