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The Indian Community School of Milwaukee

“All-access is good for all people, and the Indian Community School of Milwaukee is an inspiring example of this principle in practice,” said Paralyzed Veterans’ National President Randy L. Pleva, Sr. “Through their hard work, architects and their clients can play an extremely important role in removing the barriers that people with disabilities face everywhere, everyday—an advance that improves everyone’s quality of life.”
The Indian Community School of Milwaukee is notably accessible for the following reasons:

  • Access was a core value in the design of the school from the beginning.
  • Accessible features are seamlessly integrated into the school design. For example, the building follows the rolling landscape, and where floor level changes occur, these areas are celebrated as special connecting nodes with ramps and bright natural daylight that are used as gathering areas, places for storytelling, and small teaching spaces.
  • Accessible movement is paramount throughout the school, both vertically and horizontally, with stairs and elevator circulation routes that are inclusive and balanced, and wider corridors and main areas that amply accommodate groups of people with disabilities.

World-renowned architect Antoine Predock, FAIA is known for projects ranging from the famed Turtle Creek House, built in 1993 for bird enthusiasts along a prehistoric trail in Texas and the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College to a new Ballpark for the San Diego Padres that reinvents the concept of a ballpark as a “garden” rather than solely a sports complex.

The Indian Community School of Milwaukee (ICS) is a privately owned and operated urban intertribal school educating American Indian children from kindergarten through the 8th grade and employing approximately 95 individuals. Serving the Indian community of metro Milwaukee for more than 30 years, ICS has provided its students a unique learning experience. American Indian spirituality, languages, ceremonies, cultural identity, and pride are major components of the children’s education. The school serves 309 children from 12 different tribes.

Everyone has a role to play in creating a barrier-free America: “Encourage the architects and designers in your community to imagine how a person with disabilities will experience the buildings and spaces they have in mind. This heightened sense of awareness and empathy will not only improve the quality of buildings and spaces for people with disabilities, but for everyone,” Mr. Pleva stressed.

The building follows the natural rolling topography of a former farm while preserving the remnant hardwood forest on the site. Prairie and wetlands were restored as an outdoor learning experience. Nature and those dwelling inside the structure are seamlessly connected as every space provides unique associations with the exterior environment. The school strives to maintain the connection between the students and land.


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