credits: John Gordon

Project Name


Jessica is a C6/C7 quadriplegic – paralyzed from mid-chest down with limited use of arms and hands.  The design mandate for 363HOUSE was to support Jessica’s abilities and minimize barriers to an accessible life. Doing so required a skillful blend of universal design and accessibility principles.

Accessible Features. Some were easily attained, e.g. wider doors and passageways.  Some are subtle and detail-intensive, e.g. foundation details that lower door sills to eliminate the typical “bump” at the door.  Jessica enjoys cooking! Of course, the kitchen presents many obstacles. Design solutions include thoughtful selection and locations of appliances; proper countertop heights to accommodate access, comfort and safety; and, a kitchen layout that optimizes Jessica’s mobility (she has greater strength and dexterity with her right arm/hand). Abundant natural light makes for a pleasant indoor space year-round, an important consideration especially in the winter when getting out and around in a wheelchair can be challenging!

Site. 363HOUSE occupies a small infill lot in an established neighborhood near the University of Southern Maine campus in Portland, Maine. Extensive thought was devoted to site and building design relative to one-story vs. two-story. The site’s land use restrictions could have accommodated a one-story building, but would have resulted in very little useable exterior area, an important program requirement for Jessica and her family.  As a result, a two-story scheme was developed.  Second floor access is provided via a wheelchair lift enclosed with a door at the ground floor.

363HOUSE had two high-performance goals, accessibility and environmental. Its environmental goals are best summarized as “near net-zero energy” and “LEED Platinum targeted”. This high-performance house demonstrates how a small residence can fit into an older neighborhood and provide a socially sustainable life for a young family.

Architecture or A/E Firm Name

john gordon | architect


John P. Gordon, AIA




Landscape Architect: Coplon Associates. LEED Consultant: Thornton Tomasetti. Renewable Energy and Heating: ReVision Energy. LEED Green Rater: Horizon Maine. Lighting Design: Peter Knuppel.


Portland, Maine


Jessica and Todd Russell

General Contractor

Nichols Construction