Justin is a two-time Marianjoy Scholarship winner. His experience with disability inspired him to work on universal design as an architect to improve lives for other people with disabilities.
Justin Marshall is no stranger to accessibility challenges. As a wheelchair-user himself, he has an intimate knowledge of the challenges that people with disabilities encounter with their environment. “My career path in architecture was dictated by what many may consider a disability, but I have found it to be a tremendous opportunity,” he says. “I’ve made it my life’s goal to eliminate as many obstacles as I can.” Justin uses his unique perspective as a wheelchair-user and an architect to redesign the world, one blueprint at a time.
When Justin was just 12 years old, he sustained a rare spinal cord stroke. He came to Marianjoy for therapy and to learn how to navigate life in a new way. Now an adult, his experience with disability inspired him to work on universal design as an architect to improve lives for other people with disabilities. Justin is also a two-time Marianjoy Scholarship winner.
Though he was here only a few months, Justin has kept in touch with the doctors and therapists over the years. He went on to receive a Marianjoy Scholarship twice, in 2009 and 2010. “Winning that scholarship from Marianjoy meant a lot to me,” he recalls. “Not only did they help me physically, when I was injured, but they supported my education goals a decade later. They continue to help people fulfill their dreams.”
Justin first became interested in the field of architecture after excelling at a drafting class in high school. “I realized I had a talent in that area, and I wanted to pursue it,” he says. He went on to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to study architecture, where he received a BS in Architectural Studies, Certificate in Urban Planning, and Master of Architecture, all with honors.
Justin worked at several different architecture companies before arriving at Flad Architects. All along, he put universal design and accessibility at the forefront of his designs, even going beyond ADA mandates. In creating a design, Justin parallels how someone with an impairment would experience that space versus someone who is able-bodied. “It’s about the relationship of that person with the environment,” he says.
Justin has developed a Pattern Language of Accessibility, which is a set of guidelines based on how an individual encounters an area. “There might be rules that dictate a certain amount of room to be allowed by the ADA, but to me, it’s about the experience, about having the fluidity to move around in an open area,” says Justin. He has created a booklet full of these patterns and continues to adjust and add to them as new issues of accessability arise and technology advances. These patterns are universal and can be used on houses, office buildings, stores, restaurants and hospitals. In fact, his current specialty is hospital design. “It feels like I’ve come full circle,” he says.
To learn more about the Marianjoy Scholarship Program, or to make a donation, visit www.Marianjoy.org. For more information, call 630-909-7402.
“Whether it be a city, a community, a house, a room, or a threshold; no built environment should ever be disadvantageous to any one person or group of people. The constructed world should operate and feel the same for every being.”
Justin Marshall, Architectural Intern, Flad Architects;Maya
Visit Justin’s website at https://sites.google.com/site/jmarshallarchitecture/.