Universal Design and Accessibility: Insights from February's CDA Town Hall Presentations

Mar 22, 2024

At Chipman Design Architecture, we are committed to creating spaces that are not just beautiful and functional but are accessible to everyone. This commitment was at the forefront of our February Town Hall Presentations, which centered around Accessibility in the Physical Environment and Universal Design. These presentations were an opportunity for our team to delve into the best practices that make our designs inclusive and accessible.

Our discussions covered a range of vital topics, from Accessibility Standards for millwork, routes, and doorways, to considerations for toilet rooms and changing rooms. A significant part of the conversation was understanding the evolution of standards from ANSI 2009 to ANSI 2017, which provided our team with a comprehensive view of how accessibility guidelines have advanced to accommodate a broader range of needs.

The highlight of this series was the enlightening presentation by Luke Spink, VP of Sales- Eastern USA & Canada at Panaz. As an inspiring guest speaker and a passionate advocate for ADA standards, Luke brought a wealth of knowledge to the table, particularly in enhancing and improving accessibility in hotels and public spaces.

Luke's presentation went beyond the mere compliance with accessibility standards; it was a call to action for thoughtful design that anticipates the needs of all users. Drawing from his experiences as a frequent traveler, he shed light on common obstacles that often go unnoticed but can significantly impact the accessibility of a space. His insights were not just eye-opening; they were a vivid reminder of the challenges many face in navigating environments that don’t consider their needs.

One of the key takeaways from Luke’s talk was the importance of going beyond what is legally required to create spaces that truly welcome everyone. He emphasized that by adopting Universal Design principles, we could preemptively address the needs of a diverse range of users, ensuring our projects are not just accessible but genuinely inclusive.

Luke’s presentation was not just informative; it was motivational. It reminded us that at the heart of Universal Design is empathy—a deep understanding and consideration for the experiences of all people who interact with the environments we create. Inspired by his passion and insights, our team left with a renewed commitment to ensure that our work consistently reflects our dedication to Universal Design principles.

As we move forward, the lessons learned from our February Town Hall Presentations will continue to guide our efforts. We are more committed than ever to pushing the boundaries of design to create spaces that are not only visually appealing and functional but are accessible and welcoming to everyone. Through continuous learning and collaboration, we aim to set new standards for inclusivity and accessibility in architecture and design.


Lauren Chipman, a true multi-disciplinary designer and performing artist, brings a distinct sense of creative leadership to her position as Chief Executive Officer at Chipman Design Architecture. Prior to her work at Chipman, Lauren performed professionally as a string instrumentalist with a resume that includes recording for television, film, and top Billboard artists. Today, Lauren is proud to be part of the third generation to carry on her family’s legacy. Lauren’s unconventional background and innate sense of innovation allow her to bring a fresh perspective to the impact of hospitality, retail, and restaurant spaces. Despite helming a well-established firm that supports national clients like Chick-fil-A, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Ulta Beauty, Marriott, Peet’s Coffee and CVS, Lauren’s entrepreneurial vision often goes beyond traditional industry approaches. From pioneering integration of new technology in the conceptual design process to almost exclusively recruiting multi-hyphenate talent, Lauren directs the company with the future in mind. A holistic leader, Lauren leverages her own experience as an industry outsider to cultivate a unique, forward-thinking environment composed of a team with diverse backgrounds. She pushes the firm to not only solve present design challenges, but also develop foresight into cultural and behavioral changes. This high level of adaptable strategy allows the firm to keep clients ahead of the curve, and nimble in response to industry shifts. Lauren has spoken at numerous conferences, including Globalshop, Google Zeitgeist, design:retail Forum, MUFES, MUFSO and Bitac Luxury. A Professional Affiliate of the AIA, Lauren also holds memberships in such industry organizations as NOMA and RDI and was recently recognized with vmsd’s “40 under 40 award.”

Chipman Design Architecture (WBE)is a people-first, family-owned retail, hospitality, restaurant, and senior living architecture firm composed of innovators, architects, and interior designers who love collaborating, breaking boundaries, and creating spaces for tomorrow. For over forty years, the firm has separated themselves with a focus on the future in regard to organizational structure, customer experience and fostering community. With corporate headquarters in Chicago, and five additional national offices, Chipman Design provides interior design, experiential design, and architectural expertise throughout North America. Today, the firm’s Principal team, led by third generation family member, and CEO, Lauren Chipman, offers innovation and professionalism through complete architectural and interior design services. Through membership in the U.S. Green Building Council, the firm’s commitment to sustainability and lowering energy consumption continues to reinforce recognition of the critical role of architects in today’s world.