The soon-to-be opened American Airlines Center, debuting July 28, is garnering praise as a national accessibility model for buildings across the country. Before construction even began, the Center, the NBA Dallas Mavericks and NHL Dallas Stars formed an 11-member volunteer Accessibility Advisory Committee, made up of local businesses and groups that service persons with disabilities. And it continues to work to ensure the building meets and exceeds standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS). Kevin G. McGuire, chairman /CEO of McGuire Associates, Inc., and considered the premier ADA consultant for public assembly facilities, served as the accessibility architect consultant for the project.
"It all began with the owners having the foresight to create the Accessibility Advisory Committee,'' said Adina Alford, director of Guest Relations for American Airlines Center and committee head. "It's rare that a group like ours is imagined, much less implemented. But it is crucially important, because it shows a solid commitment to persons with disabilities in the community. Both the committee and the facility are extraordinary templates for cities to follow."
"ADA is forcing designers to think differently, and as a result, changing the ways buildings are built," said Kristi Thomas, president of Accessology and a committee member. "We've seen it first hand here." "Aspiring to be the most accessible facility in the country is an incredible and huge undertaking," added Dave Brown, vice president and general manager of American Airlines Center. "We knew the only way to accomplish such a important goal was to incorporate a group of experts who know ADA regulations and requirements and understands the needs of guests with disabilities."
Some additional accessibility features include:
*Promised 200 accessible seats, will deliver over 500
*Accessible seating will be available on ice floor configurations
*Better sightlines for accessible seating
*All common areas, vendor spaces, retail and restaurants follow ADA and TAS requirements
*Every luxury suite is accessible
*All 20 family bathrooms are accessible