Design that's aesthetically pleasing as well as disability-responsible will add a significant cachet to Arcosanti not just because the ADA was enacted in 1990 and "It's about time" but because there is no meaningful reason for Arcosanti to shirk the useful project of affording equal access.
On a personal level, as an Arcosanti docent it distresses me to witness the reactions of first-time visitors when they are confronted with how little attention Arcosanti has paid to handicap-aware, handicap-sensitive, handicap-friendly design. Observing those visitors' discomfort is especially troublesome because I find it completely and utterly understandable. (Personal experience with handicap does tend to have that effect.).
Which is likely why it probably comes as no surprise that I keep harping (on and on and on!) about how how pressing I feel it is it is for Arcosanti to take on the project of ADA-compliance. IMO, which I am not ashamed to acknowledge is not always humble, a better understanding of the ADA will be not only of immediate physical benefit for all of Arcosanti's guests: it will greatly enrich the idea of arcology as well as provide short and long-term economic benefits for everyone involved, Moral satisfaction, too.
When I first proposed that the Arcosanti Workshop Program drill down to meet this admittedly not-small challenge, I was surprised that my suggestion was met with what I thought was a peculiar combination of incredulity, dismay and resistance. Of course, I had to respond...because "Where will we get the money?" doesn't cut it as a rational reaction. The primary responsibility of a non-profit's Board is to raise money. "We've been doing the best we can" is a response that does not change the situation at all, even circumstantially, because whatever effort has been made clearly hasn't been global enough. Or even site-wide enough.
Taking it personally (which I'm allowed to do because I earned myself a "handicapped" label/placard a fair while ago), it seems to me that it is perfectly fair to ask: Who among all the people of Arcosanti has not even one handicapped friend, family member, or acquaintance? It is also fair, I think, to ask: Why is complying with federal law not a priority for Arcosanti?
ADA-compliance/compatibility is a project that will resonate with architecture and engineering educators all over the world. In fact, an international competition will be a very good way to kick it off: ("Start Where You Are" - always!)
To go back to Square One: If Paolo Soleri's idea of arcology is as good for all the world as he believed it was, as good for all the world as many people still believe it is, surely it has to be as inclusive as it can possibly be. Which means - does it not? - that it has to be good for an ethnically, culturally, linguistically, mentally, emotionally - and physically! - diverse population. Right?
What's it worth? How about starting with what it's cost Arcosanti, so far, to be out of compliance? The medical costs, the physical pain, grief and suffering of people who were injured - never mind their mental/emotional anguish or the high liability insurance costs that Arcosanti has had to bear?
At the very least, surely it's an idea worth considering.