Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mall Revamp Brings Equality to Shopping

A local mall, the Kenwood Towne Centre, recently decided it needed a bit of a refurbish. Considering the mall had last been updated when I was a very little kid, it was likely past due for such a high traffic place. I assumed that like most overhauls of public spaces, they'd take the easy way out and just fix the cosmetic issues. Instead, the mall went above and beyond, in a fabulous way. 
This mall has a very peculiar set up. The second floor is twice the size of the first floor, and the half of it that has no first floor changes heights frequently as you go down the hallway. 

Stores on the right hand side of the hallway could be as many as 6 steps higher or lower than those on the left. This meant, with the old setup, that there were frequent stair cases. In order to get to stores when using a wheelchair or pushing a stroller, you had to follow the "Stroller Path", which was S shaped. To get a store not on the Stroller Path, you'd have to go one of the far ends, then double back on yourself, up to 10 stores, using steep ramps, causing excessive fatigue for a simple trip to the mall. 
This shot of the old pathways shows the height difference. If you look carefully, you can see 2 separate stair cases down the center. This was what the entire hall looked like, with a total of 7 or 8 stair cases. (This picture is not mine- it was pulled from the background of an old youtube video, as I never imagined I'd need a Before picture when the construction began!)

As part of their overhaul? They added a ramp every single spot they have stairs in this wonky hallway. 

These new ramps make the mall. It's fantastic! I can now get wherever I need to go with far less effort, and with no backtracking. I'm no longer constantly separated from my family or friends when I shop with them, allowing me to be more included. 

My hat is off to the folks managing the Kenwood Towne Centre. They did some pretty awesome things with this revamp, or should I say, reRamp. Now, if we could just get all public places to follow suit. 

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