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New Microwave Accessibility Requirement for Chicago Projects

2022 0505 Ideas Post
May 05, 2022
Michael Grochola

In recent conversations and meetings with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). MOPD has been enforcing a new requirement for microwaves in residential Type A dwelling units based on their interpretation of the accessibility code. However this can affect the layouts of kitchens in all dwelling units.

When built-in microwaves are provided within Type B dwelling units, MOPD has stated that built-in microwaves should also be installed within the Type A dwelling units on a project.

Built-in microwaves include any variety of styles, from those located over the cooking range, integrated into a pantry cabinet, or positioned under the countertop.

What is the reasoning behind the city's new microwave requirement?

Per ANSI A117.1-2009 Section 1003.12.5.1, all Type A unit appliance controls shall comply with Section 1003.9. This section of code requires all appliances to have tenant-operable parts within an accessible reach range from an adjacent clear floor space. In order to comply with the code, a countertop microwave is typically provided since it will meet the reach range requirements.

Per MOPD’s interpretation, this has the effect of restricting a portion of kitchen counter space to the countertop microwave. In effect reducing the amount of counter space that is provided in Type A kitchens when compared to a similar Type B kitchen layout. As the Type B units will commonly have a built-in microwave provided.

MAPS realizes this interpretation can have drastic design changes for some kitchen layouts. Below are some recommendations on how to address the MOPD microwave interpretation.

  • All microwaves within all dwelling units are built-in models, countertop models are not provided.
  • If all microwaves within all dwelling units are countertop models, then the MOPD interpretation would no longer be applicable.
  • Additional counter space is provided within the Type A units for the countertop microwave. That way the open counter space remaining in the Type A kitchens is equivalent to comparable Type B kitchens. However, if equivalent counter space is provided, it would need to be clearly noted in the drawings.

The enforcement of Type A unit requirements is with the local code jurisdiction, which in this case is MOPD. Keep in mind that this requirement is only applicable to projects located in the City of Chicago and would not be applicable to projects located in other jurisdictions.

Please reach out to MAPS if you have any questions regarding this change to microwaves in dwelling units. If you need help with your Type A dwelling unit layouts, we can perform plan reviews or consult on an as-needed basis.