DEBORAH PIERCE AIA, PRINCIPAL
“It’s time to re-envision the American home! The house of tomorrow will be more user-friendly, and smarter rather than larger. Universal design features like open-plan living, zero-step pathways, and hands-free fixtures are becoming mainstream - great news for people with a variety of impairments and those planning to age comfortably at home!”
– Deborah Pierce, AIA, CAPS
Award-winning architect, occasional general contractor, parent, frequent-klutz, Italiophile, and optimist, Deborah Pierce has been designing good places to live and work since 1980. Her interest in the ways that architecture impacts people with disabilities began with an “aha!” moment in daughter Casey’s fourth grade classroom. A guest with a spinal cord injury was unable to enter the school to talk with the students about being a wheelchair-user because a city building - touted as accessible - had the ramp and doorbell placed at different entranceways! A fractured wrist and two shoulder reconstructions later brought Deb additional insights into the limits of standard building practices, especially door and plumbing hardware.
Her book The Accessible Home: Designing for All Ages and Abilities was published by The Taunton Press in 2012 and has been an Amazon home improvement bestseller. Deb and The Accessible Home have been featured in more than 100 media outlets across the country including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, The San Francisco Chronicle, REALTOR magazine, Remodeling magazine, Newsday, The Chicago Tribune, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, What’s Disability, and WGBH’s “Mindy Todd Show.” Michael Graves, FAIA says, in the book’s foreword, “Deborah Pierce tackles the small problems along with the large in her quest to make wonderful places where people with disabilities can live comfortably and safely.”
Boston Architectural College, B.Arch. 1977
Tufts University, B.A. 1971 Sociology & Urban Planning
2009 Honor Award for Accessible Design, Boston Society of Architects and MA Architectural Access Board
2011 Award of Excellence, Boston Society of Architects and Women In Design
Selected Project Experience:
Deb has designed access upgrades to city halls, libraries, courthouses, police stations, hospitals, schools, offices, and retail shops, while simultaneously designing home renovations, additions, and new construction. A second “aha!” moment occurred when a family hired Deb to alter their home so that their six year old, born with cerebral palsy, could join fully in family life. Since then, Deb’s work has been focused exclusively on promoting residential accessibility, as an architect, advocate, coach, and project manager.
Selected Workshops, Speeches & Seminars:
Deb is a frequent presenter around the nation to architects and architecture schools, retirement organizations, finance and estate planners, real estate agents, homebuilders, remodeling shows, senior centers, and caregiver organizations. Deb also leads seminars in health-care settings, because she believes that sharing expertise between design and medical professionals leads to the creation of spaces where all people can function at their best. Deb’s PowerPoint presentations are extensively illustrated with case study photos from The Accessible Home, and copies of her book are available for sale and signing at speaking events. Contact us if you’d like to arrange for Deb to speak at your event.
• Homes for the Future: Accessible, Universal, and Beautiful
• New Life for Old Houses: Updating with Universal Design
• Accessible Homes: Minimizing Disabilities through Design
• Creating The Accessible Home: From Planning through Construction
• Raising a Child with Disabilities: Designing Family-Centered Homes
• Accessible Bathrooms: Designed for Safety
• Tailored to the Chef: Accessible Kitchens
• Homes for Better Seeing
• Homes for Better Hearing
• Accessible Communities: In and Beyond the Home
Homes are laboratories for accessible design, and people know best what they need to live well in a home. For these reasons, we love working closely with homeowners to improve their living spaces. Design and construction projects are a team effort. We know houses and accessible design solutions; the homeowners know their needs; and builders know the construction market. Working together, we create what works.
The best design for any house is responsive and inclusive. Responsive because it meets the unique requirements of those who live there. Inclusive because the criteria for a successful project are established with the input of those who matter. No project is problem-free, but with our 35 years of experience, we can help solve problems quickly and effectively so that the project gets back on track. The hallmarks of a successful project are patience, mutual respect, resourcefulness, and communication.
We tailor our services to the needs of the client and the building. While most of our clients have requested full services (design through construction administration), we are also available for limited services and smaller projects. We also consult with homeowners, developers, builders, and other architects on issues of universal design. A partial list of available services follows. If you can’t find what you need, call us.
• Home assessments - either pre-purchase or pre-design
• Kitchen and bathroom remodeling
• Home additions and alterations
• Accessible product specifications
• Vertical access upgrades – placing and choosing lifts, elevators, and ramps
• Design review - of proposed work by others
• Owner’s representative
• Bidding and contract preparation – owner/builder negotiation
• Construction administration – weekly or phase-related site visits
TESTIMONIALS: Residential Clients
"More than a year ago we decided, with some trepidation, to have you redesign much of the first floor of our home to create a safer, customized living space for our daughter S. Now, months of construction later, the work is complete … and spectacular. We deeply appreciate the creativity you brought to the planning, and your willingness to “teach” us about the process we were heading into. SB was a perfect choice as the general contractor. Thank you for all you did to make these ideas become a reality." – The Burke Family
“With the help of Deb and her team we had the opportunity to design and build our house in a way that includes our daughter as fully as possible. The modifications have made it possible for her to be more independent and engaged in daily life…. We live every day in a house that fills us with joy. We are so grateful to Deb Pierce and her entire team for making our dream come true.” – Katharine Davidge, Homeowner
“I am delighted to recommend the architectural services of Pierce Lamb Architects…. The results of our addition far exceeded our expectations. Deb exemplified a variety of qualities that served us in our project: creativity, vision, flexibility, interpersonal skill, and integrity.” – Margaret Baim, Homeowner
“The kitchen you designed is perfect in all respects and we are grateful for that.” – Randy Bairnsfarther, Homeowner
“It is with great appreciation and affection that I recommend the architectural services of Deborah Pierce and Pierce Lamb Architects…. Deb worked tirelessly to help us create our dream home. Her professional and courteous manner, coupled with her knowledge and attention to detail, helped to make an overwhelming process much more bearable.… The lines of communication were always open and the exchange of ideas and input was constant.” – Candy Kossow Gold, Homeowner
"We love our (new family room) and are very pleased with the results and all the attention to details. We spend more time together, and there are spaces for all family members to play and work. We also are entertaining more and have hosted multiple families at once. We love how (the project) improved the flow of the house, leading us to use rooms more often that before were vacant. Thanks for all of your time and patience." – Erica Mayer and Doug Drachman, Homeowner
“We wanted to let you know how much we are enjoying living in our new renovated space. Your help and insight throughout this whole process was enormous. We appreciate living in it more each day.” – Helene Goldberg and Jon Van, Homeowners
“Deborah Pierce showed extraordinary respect for my budget and honored my taste in design. … Very collaborative and supportive style. Great productive relationship with the builder. Terrific sense of integrating design. I enjoyed working with her so much I hired her a second time!” – Barbara Bates, Homeowner
“I worked with Deb Pierce on a major first floor and kitchen renovation. We worked for several months putting together a plan that reflected my style and personal needs. Deb's ideas for the use of space were out of the box and fantastic. The help she gave me choosing a contractor was invaluable. Given the scope of this project I needed help and I got it. The job was completed on time and on budget, almost a miracle. I have no reservations about recommending Deb.” – Sheryl Comenzo, Homeowner
“Thank you so much for your presentation to the Aphasia Group. You did a great job involving them in discussion, and I think their interest in the topic was obvious. I have shared the copies of your presentation with hospital staff. You do important work … many thanks!” – Margaret McSharry
TESTIMONIALS: Public and Commercial Clients
“Pierce Lamb carried out its responsibilities with us with the highest levels of professional expertise and personal commitment… I am pleased to give my unqualified endorsement to the firm.” – Patricia Deyton, CEO, American Red Cross
“Their staff managed complexity well, producing exhaustive, well-organized studies of (our) needs. Their work included extensive interaction with staff and executive departments. They handled both the analytic and personal aspects of these interactions well.” – John Stainton, Director, Court Facilities Unit, MA DCPO
“Pierce Lamb Architects was required to perform within an aggressive timeframe. They were responsive to our schedule demands. The products were consistent professional in their execution. Deborah Pierce directly oversaw our planning project in a thoughtful and thorough manner. Her ability to respond to the complex issues of the (Hospital) was commendable.” – Robert Wakefield, Executive Director, Lemuel Shattuck Hospital
“Deborah’s personal dedication to the project, her interpersonal skills and ability to be flexible and open-minded resulted in studies that were performed on schedule, within budget, and to the satisfaction of the parties involved.” – Beth Rubenstein, Director of Programming, MA DCPO
“Ms. Pierce demonstrated superior expertise in leading diverse groups to a consensus on a preferred approach to revitalizing Norwood Center. I unhesitatingly recommend (this) firm.” – Stephen Costello, Norwood Town Planner
We see design as problem-solving and the client as an integral member of the team. For over 35 years, we’ve developed an approach to our work that builds on the lessons learned with the most extraordinary buildings and clients. Our experience with historic public buildings and access upgrades for libraries, courthouses, city halls and schools informs our residential remodeling. And our experience with families shines a unique light on the human condition, with all its wonderful insight and resourcefulness, and the ways that architecture can restore the grace of everyday living to people with impairments.
With her book, The Accessible Home: Designing for All Ages and Abilities (Taunton Press, 2012), Deborah Pierce shares her expertise and insights with readers and audiences across North America. The book features nearly 40 projects in 16 states and synthesizes hundreds of conversations with architects, builders, designers, and homeowners living with disabilities. The Accessible Home offers a new vision of the American home, one better suited to the realities of who we all are.
Deb now speaks extensively to groups around the country about universal design and how to create accessible homes.