Port Townsend Residence

Architect: FabCab

Location: Port Townsend, Washington

Category Four: Housing Accessibility | Alan J. Rothman Award

An open floor plan and airy room volumes provide a sense of spaciousness while also accounting for the needs of a resident in a powered wheelchair.


The Port Townsend Residence, situated in a seven-lot community surrounding a common garden space, was designed to accommodate the needs of the clients—a couple—one of whom uses a powered wheelchair. With careful attention paid to the circulation requirements of such a wheelchair, the 1,325-square-foot house offers an accessible route from the street, through the home, and on to the hardscaped patio and common garden spaces. The attached carport provides sheltered accommodations for the clients’ transfer ramp-equipped van.

"They have successfully edited simple interiors that invite resident personalization." ~ Jury comment

Despite its modest footprint, the home’s open floor plan and airy room volumes facilitate circulation while providing a sense of spaciousness. The bedrooms’ telescoping doors give the clients choices in how they use them and connect with the additional living spaces. On the pocket doors throughout the home, which do not slide fully into the walls, large panel-mounted handles allow for their use with limited dexterity.

The kitchen has been designed for use in both standing and seated positions. Knee space is provided below the sink, and the base cabinets are fitted with drawers to keep shelving within reach of the wheelchair user. A wall oven and nearby microwave keep all oven racks within reach, while a wall-mounted pot filler eliminates the need to transfer heavy pots from the sink to the range.

"Very thoughtfully executed, with great attention to detail for specific user needs." ~ Jury comment

In the bathroom, consultation with the wheelchair user informed the location of all grab bars, and the threshold-free shower features towel bars and an adjustable shower head bar that can be utilized in the event of a fall. Two sets of showerheads and valves can be used by both clients with no need for adjustment, while a universal height toilet also serves both users. The use of wire baskets in the shower to contain toiletries in lieu of recesses and ledges keep items like shampoo and soap from falling until they are firmly in hand.

The residence’s Douglas fir timber frame is enclosed with structural insulated panels, offering continuous insulation and less air infiltration than standard construction. On the south side, tall windows slotted directly into the frame connect to the outdoor spaces while gathering passive solar energy.

Additional information

Owner: Judi and David Cornis

Engineering - Structural: Firetower Engineered Timber

General Contractor: James Hall and Associates


2016 AIA/HUD Secretary's Awards Jury

Jamie Blosser, AIA (Chair), Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Ariella Cohen, Editor-in-Chief, Next City, Philadelphia

Kevin Harris, FAIA, Kevin Harris Architect, LLC, Baton Rouge

David Lee, FAIA, Stull and Lee, Inc., Roxbury Crossing, Massachusetts

Rachelle Levitt, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, DC

Lynn M. Ross, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, DC

Suman Sorg, FAIA, Sorg & Associates, P.C., Washington, DC

Image credits

HUD - Port Townsend Residence 1

Dale Lang

HUD - Port Townsend Residence 2

Dale Lang

HUD - Port Townsend Residence 3