Joel Solkoff USA, Disability Access Design Issues, Mobility in Buildings, Architects

Joel Solkoff – Disability Access Issues

July 15, 2022

Joel Solkoff (1947 – 2022)

Sadly Joel Solkoff passed away on May 3, 2022 in his local Williamsport hospital, Pennsylvania, USA.

Joel Solkoff USA, Mobility in Buildings

He was born in New York City, October 12, 1947, the son of Isadore Solkoff and Miriam Pell. He received his B.A. from Columbia University and was a graduate student from Penn State’s Rehabilitation Counseling program.

He was passionate about architecture, especially disability rights and affordable housing.

Joel Ezra Solkoff, 74, of Williamsport, PA, passed away Tuesday afternoon at the Gatehouse Hospice in Williamsport.

Joel Solkoff USA, Mobility in Buildings

We honor his work for e-architect, namely his astute columns focused on American architecture, and specifically accessibility issues. Ever since I worked with Buro Happold’s Margaret Hickish on accessibility in the Scottish Parliament building (as one of the three Project Interior Architects) I have been acutely aware of how the construction sector and the architectural profession need to do more to make as many spaces open to people of a wide range of abilities.

Morgan Library and Museum, New York City, NY, USA:
Morgan Library and Museum.
photo courtesy of the Morgan Library and Museum

Joel started writing for us with a series of columns on Renzo Piano‘s Morgan Museum and Library in New York City (above). He praised the building for its good access.

Hunters Point Library, New York City, NY, USA:
Column Volume VI Number 1: Hunters Point Library New York building - Shameful architecture scandal
photo © Sarah Schmerler

More negatively, the Queens Library by Steven Holl Architects (above) came in for some sharp criticism from Joel, and many others, and it was a marker to remind us that much more still has to be done.

He said, ‘New York City architecture firm of Steven Holl violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by deliberately designing a library where the fiction collection is not accessible to adult paraplegics like me nor are disabled children able to hear stories being read to their abled-bodied peers’.

Joel Solkoff USA, Mobility in Buildings

Isabelle and myself extend our sincere appreciation to Joel, and send our best wishes to his family. He certainly had an interesting life, from significant political work ‘on the hill’ in Washington, D.C., to communications with the likes of American psychologist and author Timothy Leary.

Joel Solkoff was a thinker, and for sure we need more of those in this world.

e-architect Founding Editor Adrian Welch, Architect

Occasional Guest Editor at e-architect – architectural articles

Joel Solkoff, Penn State

Joel Solkoff writing on US Disability Access Issues

Joel Solkoff is a research assistant at the Department of Architectural Engineering at Penn State.

Joel Solkoff
photo by Kathy Forer

He writes on housing for the disabled and elderly and on his experiences as with cancer at

Joel Solkoff is a disability consumer consultant. He served as a consultant to two Chairmen of the Securities and Exchange Commission—the first a Democrat and the second a Republican.

He is the author of The Politics of Food.

He is currently working on a report for the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center (PHRC) on renovating existing housing for individuals with mobility disabilities. Solkoff is co-authoring the report with Dr. Ali Memari, Director of the PHRC, who also holds the Bernard and Henrietta Hankin Chair of Residential Construction at the Department.

Architecture Column by Joel Solkoff

Joel’s Column Vol. II, Number 1
If I were an architect eager to launch my career in the U.S., I would focus on three states:

Texas, California, and Florida
The Crescent
photo : The Crescent a 1938 Art Deco hotel, Henry Hohauser architect, photo courtesy of the City of Miami Beach, Florida
Joel Solkoff Column Vol. II, Number 1
The notorious bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks. “Because that is where the money is.” Despite the incredibly exciting renewal taking place in New York City, the reality is that the wealth and power in the United States has shifted. The wealth and power in the U.S. now resides in the West and in the South. With that shift has come opportunities for architects in such states such as Texas, California, and Florida.

Architecture Articles by Joel Solkoff

Recent Architectural Articles + Videos, chronological:

Low-cost Housing for the Elderly
American Housing
image © Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, 2008
Oct 13, 2013
Low-cost Housing for the Elderly
The author looks at housing access issues, from the low proportion of housing that is wheel chair accessible to the requirement of elderly individuals to spiritually uplifting laces such as museums.

Renzo Piano Building in New York – Videos
Part 2 of 3: Giorgio Bianchi
Sep 26, 2013

Part 1 of 3: Giorgio Bianchi interview
Sep 26, 2013

Giorgio Bianchi is interviewed about his role in executing Renzo Piano’s J.P. Morgan Library and Museum Building, New York City, USA

Renzo Piano Exhibition in New York – Video
Joel Solkoff visits the Gagosian Gallery, NYC, which kindly arranged for him to visit the Renzo Piano exhibit after it had closed.

Morgan Library and Museum Disability Architecture
Morgan Library Building Site
photo by permission of Robert Silman Structural Engineering, New York, New York
Aug 24, 2013, updated Oct 18, 2013
Morgan Library and Museum Disability Architecture
Library and Museum in New York City, USA, by Renzo Piano Building Workshop – article by Joel Solkoff for e-architect

J.P. Morgan Library and Museum Building, New York City, USA
Morgan Library and Museum
photo by Michel Denancé, provided by permission of the Morgan Library and Museum
J.P. Morgan Library and Museum Building : part 1 – Jul 15, 2013
Jul 15, 2013
J.P. Morgan Library Museum : part 2
Jul 15, 2013

J.P. Morgan Library and Museum Access
J.P. Morgan Library and Museum Access
May 20, 2013

Disability Access Architecture
Disability Access
photo from author
Disability Access Architecture
Mar 18, 2013

Disability Access Design
Stairs and Ramps
photo by author
Disability Access Design
Feb 27, 2013

Contact Joel Solkoff by e-mail: joel(at)

Joel Solkoff is based in the Borough of State College where Penn State is located. He is a research assistant at the Department of Architectural Engineering.

Solkoff is the author of Learning to Live Again: My Triumph Over Cancer, available on his site

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Comments / photos for the Joel Solkoff USA – Disability Access Design in Buildings page welcome