Universal Design Demonstration House open for tours in Prince William

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PAUL WEISENBERGER speaks with authority when he says that everyone, at some point in their lives, will wish they lived in a house that incorporates universal design techniques.

He’s one of the expert volunteer tour guides who direct visitors through the Universal Design Demonstration House in Prince William County.

After his son, Travis, was born with disabilities 33 years ago, Weisenberger took a special interest in any sort of initiative or innovation that aids or enriches the lives of the disabled.

More recently, Weisenberger’s wife needed foot surgery and will need to stay off it for a while. If their bathroom at home had universal design features, she would enjoy more independence, and he wouldn’t have to lift her here and there.

But the key point that Weisenberger and others want to make is that this is not a “house for the handicapped.” It is a house for everyone, a house that any family could live in comfortably, and indefinitely, no matter what physical circumstance may come along.

The house is a cooperative effort if there ever was one. Located in New Bristow Village, a few miles south of Manassas off State Route 28, the house was built by Centex homes through an arrangement with Prince William County and the Greater Prince William Coalition for Housing and Universal Design. The architectural firm of Devereaux and Associates of McLean collaborated with Centex on the design.

Leon Harper chairs the universal design coalition and has been an advocate for the technique for the past 16 years. He has been involved with several other UD demonstration houses, but this one is by far the most important and successful.

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