Wounded Warrior Home Project / Michael Graves and IDEO

Rendering of Scheme A © & Associates

As disabled U.S. military veterans return home, they often face the challenge of adapting to a new home and finding ways to cope with their surroundings. In order to better serve the returning soldiers, Clark Reality Capital commissioned Michael Graves & Associates (MGA) to design the “Wounded Warrior Home Project.” In conjunction with IDEO, Graves has designed a complete residential environment for physically impaired veterans. The single-family prototype homes provide everything from adjustable height kitchen counter-tops to easy-access rooms and closets, creating a comfortable environment for the physical and emotional needs of the soldiers.

Kitchen - Courtesy of

Text provided by Michael Graves & Associates:

The design of these prototypes provides for the needs of a varied group of soldiers who have been injured and/or adversely affected by their military service. Universal design principles are utilized to serve soldiers with varying conditions including but not limited to paralysis, blindness, loss of limbs, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. Two houses will be built in 2011, opening on November 30, 2011.

Kitchen with View of Patio - Courtesy of IDEO

There are twenty additional sites on Fort Belvoir that are planned for Wounded Warriors Homes, with hundreds of additional sites located on military bases across the country. Clark and MGA hope the project will contribute to a national dialogue about our need to properly serve those who have served our country. In addition, each house will function as a design laboratory, whose progress will improve the lives of soldiers, as well as the general aging American population.

Rendering of Scheme B © Michael Graves & Associates

MGA, for its part, brings to the project everything it’s learned in 47 years of product and building design. Extensive in-studio research insures that every sliding door, toothbrush, and Smartphone-controlled air conditioner in the Wounded Warrior Homes works the way it’s supposed to. At the same, Graves’ original visual sensibility gives the houses and everything in them an elegance and style usually missing in the patient-care space.

Sketch of Scheme A by Michael Graves © Michael Graves & Associates

Everywhere, the architecture and design of the homes demonstrates a unique insight into the lives of those with limited mobility—and the reason why is simple: it was all created by someone who knows the challenges that people with special needs have to face. Michael’s struggled with them for eight years, and much of his recent work has been devoted to designing newer and better everyday products that are as beautiful as they are easy to use.

Patio - Courtesy of IDEO

IDEO conducted in-depth interviews and observations of 10 civilians and 20 injured soldiers in order to gain a deep understanding of how disabled active duty service members resume civilian life. Listening to the stories of veterans and their families, IDEO realized that there isn’t one collective experience, but rather “seven dualities or contrasts” that define the complex needs of these soldiers.

Shannon and Josh - Courtesy of IDEO

These dualities are identified as ”well-defined, undefined spaces”,  ”mobile roots”, “inside out, outside in”, visible & invisible security”,  ”social privacy”, “uniquely normal” and “old self, new self”.

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Wounded Warrior Home Project / Michael Graves and IDEO" 22 Dec 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=194425>
  • Jon Rozenbergs

    First reaction: so…?

    I have a couple critics on this. First, how is this any different than a standard Universal design project? If it is designed for wounded veterans, than how does the house go beyond universal design standards to address the specific needs (physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual) of a combat-wounded soldier? I would expect research into such things, and the design should openly demonstrate such things.

    This brings me to my second criticism: What is the relevance of the suburban, single-family detached home to a combat-wounded vet? Again, there is no research the design manifests to assert that the home must be a suburban one. What happens when the same intent is explored in a dense urban environment?

    • http://stalkingarchitecture.com Elijah Kafer

      Well said, I agree. I would expect though that IDEO did do a fair bit of research, but at least in the way it’s presented here, the dots have not been connected.

    • Adam Waltering

      I’d imagine the suburban location has something to do with the “American Dream”.

    • Romullo


      • Richard

        My American dream is to live in a city that keeps me active, occupied and well-provisioned

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