UArizona College Of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture and Ascension Wheelchair Lifts Partner to Offer Universal Design Studio Prize

August 26, 2020

How can architects ensure the widest and fairest use of the spaces they design? The answer is in universal design—a concept that prioritizes accessibility in buildings, products and environments for all people, regardless of age, disability or other factors.

For third-year Bachelor of Architecture students in studios offered by the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona this semester, it’s a concept they’ll become intimately familiar with—and just may be awarded for.

Thanks to a partnership between CAPLA and AGM Container Controls and Ascension Wheelchair Lifts—a leading manufacturer of wheelchair lifts since 1992—ARC 301 Design Studio III: Integrations of Place, taught by Assistant Professor of Practice in Architecture Teresa Rosano, will offer an awards program for universal design, with $5,000 in student prizes funded by Ascension.

“This universal design awards program comes at an opportune time in both the students' learning and this consequential moment in time more broadly,” says Rosano. “As we engage in discussion about diversity, equity and inclusion, we often neglect to include our ableist biases in the conversation. This sponsorship is an excellent catalyst for us to identify those biases, understand how they are built into our physical environment and uncover creative solutions for making places we design accessible and experientially rich for everyone.”

CAPLA Dean Nancy Pollock-Ellwand agrees: “Universal design is such a critical component of building design, redesign and use—and integrating the concept into architectural education early in the student's career is essential. We are delighted that Ascension is sponsoring this studio, and I couldn't be more excited to see what the students come up with under Teresa Rosano's outstanding guidance.”

Ascension's sponsorship of the CAPLA studio is one of many ways the company is supporting education for a more accessible future across Southern Arizona and beyond. The company has also partnered with the UArizona College of Engineering, Pima Community College and San Miguel High School.

“Investing in accessibility and universal design principles today is an investment in a better future for all of us,” says Howard N. Stewart, CEO/president of AGM and Ascension. “Ascension is proud to partner with CAPLA to underwrite studios focused on the importance of designing accessibility into every project. Working together, we can make our community and world more accessible, which allows everyone to participate equally.”

The studio begins on August 24, and over the span of the Fall 2020 semester CAPLA will highlight student and studio universal design progress on social media, including Instagram at, culminating in an awards ceremony at which Stewart will name the student winners.