Ed Roberts Campus

Je'Nen Chastain

The Ed Roberts Campus (ERC) is one of the first buildings of its kind in the nation—opened in 2010 as a community center serving and celebrating the Independent Living /Disabled Rights Movement. Located at a regional transit hub and integrating advanced strategies of Universal Design and Sustainable Design, the ERC is designed to welcome and support people of all abilities.

The Ed Roberts Campus is a nonprofit corporation formed by seven organizations that share a common history in the independent living/civil rights movement of people with disabilities. In 1998, these seven organizations joined together to plan and develop a universally designed, transit-oriented, and environmentally sustainable campus located at the Ashby BART Station in Berkeley. Commemorating the life and work of Edward V. Roberts, an early leader in the independent living movement of persons with disabilities, the ERC is the foremost disability rights service, advocacy, education, training, and policy center in the world.

The ERC is an 85,000 square foot facility designed from the ground up to meet the needs of people with all ability levels. The program includes exhibition space, community meeting rooms, a childcare center for children with disabilities, a fitness center, offices, vocational training facilities, and a café gathered around an enclosed courtyard. A transparent entry façade at the new civic plaza displays a monumental helical ramp inside. The ramp, a major work of public art beneath a skylit rotunda, serves both functional and symbolic roles, expressing the spirit of universal design by providing dramatic access to upper floors for all users.

Guided by the principles of Universal Design—the creation of environments that are equally usable by individuals of all abilities—the project exceeds the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Universal Design strategies and elements were selected to maximize benefits to the broadest variety of users while remaining economical and replicable by others. The ERC is designed as an important community building with a distinct civic presence that celebrates the collective values of its partner organizations. The building acts as both community center and urban threshold, positioning the partner organizations at a major regional transit portal.