Inclusive Design Insights


At CPRS, we shared how to design for all lifestyles – and received a surprise award! 

Group 4’s approach to designing anti-racist, inclusive facilities starts with understanding community lifestyles and needs. Group 4 principals Dawn Merkes and Andrea Gifford teamed up with Margaret Glomstad, Burlingame Parks and Recreation Director, to lead an interactive session about inclusive design at the CPRS (California Park & Recreation Society) Conference in March 2022. Dawn and Andrea introduced tools and methods for analyzing demographics, psychographics, and geographic conditions, encouraging conference participants to take a second look at their community’s needs. Based on these analyses, some participants noted that existing programs and services were not reaching many in their communities – and they were excited to change that.

The new Burlingame Community Center is a valuable case study for inclusive design, as Margaret explained at the conference. The design process itself focused on inclusivity with extensive community analysis and outreach including user need surveys, stakeholder interviews, and focus groups. This helped determine residents’ needs and resulted in a full-service facility that reflects the community. All will be welcome in specially designed children’s spaces, a senior room, a dance and fitness studio, a music room, art rooms, social lounges, classrooms, a maker space, and more. These spaces are designed to flexibly transition to other programs and services as the community’s needs transition. Beyond specialized program spaces, Group 4 recognizes that welcoming facilities should strive to integrate universal access; intuitive wayfinding and signage; the inclusion of supplemental rooms such as quiet rooms, lactation rooms, and prayer rooms; comfortable seating for all body types; and inclusive restrooms, among other equity considerations.

We were delighted to share our approach at the CPRS conference, and an unexpected award was the cherry on top. We were honored that the Yorba Cultural Arts Center was recognized with a CPRS Excellence in Design – Facility Design award!

Burlingame Community Center Diagram