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Palmer Hall Renovation, The Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind

Colorado Springs, CO

"RTA staff demonstrated a willingness to meet as often as necessary, with as many people as needed, to gather input and to share progress on the design. This has included staff, parents, students, Board members, and members of our community. It is without reservation I recommend RTA Architects.”

Carol Hilty, Former Superintendent

Why

Connecting through experience of place.

Palmer Hall has undergone a full renovation as part of the multi-phase RTA master plan for the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. The CSDB is listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties and is the only school in the state of Colorado dedicated solely to the education of the deaf and the blind.

How

Ever curious. Ever learning. Ever improving.

The historic Thomas Barber-designed building built in 1918 now houses CSDB's "Bridges to Life" program which serves students between the ages of 18 and 21 who are deaf or hard of hearing and blind or visually impaired. The program seeks to bridge the gap between high school and the real world by emphasizing the three key areas of education, employment, and independence. The Design Advisory Team stressed the importance that the Palmer Hall apartment configurations give students access to different real-world living situations. As students’ progress in their independent living skills, they will have the option to move into different apartment layouts that offer more personal space or independence.

What

Purposeful, engaging solutions.

Palmer's residential areas were designed to closely approximate apartment living and allow for increased independence. The main level is comprised of mainly suite-style apartments with roommate style living situations and a central group gathering space that can be utilized by students for studying or lounging. The upper-level apartments offer the most individual space to those with increased independence.

The common area was designed as a flexible multi-purpose space, providing for the social and educational needs of those in the program and to accommodate varying-sized groups and activities. In the common area kitchen, a large semicircular demonstration island can be used by students as a social gathering place as well as for cooking instruction and demonstration. A large format TV can project demonstrations or allow students to enjoy their favorite programs while preparing a meal. 

Project Details

  • Square footage: 15,912 SF
  • Project cost: $7.5M 

Design Details

  • LEED Gold certified
  • Collaborative design process with Design Advisory Team
  • BEST Grant assistance
  • Common kitchen
  • Multi-purpose living area
  • Historic renovation 
  • Flexible furnishings
  • Improved accessibility through a new at-grade accessible entrance and new elevator
  • Specialized lighting
  • Energy-efficient MEP systems

Recognition

  • 2019 Award of Excellence, Presented by the Historic Preservation Alliance of Colorado Springs