Ethics & Leadership Panel

Chris Downey, AIA

President, Architecture for the Blind

Architect Chris Downey has over 30 years of experience – continuing without sight since 2008. He now specializes in universal design for projects serving the blind and visually impaired including blind rehabilitation centers, eye clinics and schools for the blind along with other projects that are critical yet challenging to them but in which they are not the primary users such as museums and transit facilities. His recent work includes the new LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco, the new headquarters for the National Industries for the Blind in Alexandria, VA, an inclusive campus wayfinding prototype project for Microsoft in Redmond, WA, as well as the Sustainability Pavilion for EXPO 2020 in Dubai, UAE. His approach in all work is less about sight lost and more about vision gained for a sense of delight whether it is seen or not.

Chris has been featured in numerous media stories including “60 Minutes”, speaks internationally regarding disability and design while his TED Talk, “Design with the Blind in Mind”, has well over a million views. He has served on the California commission on disability Access since 2013, chairs the board of directors for San Francisco’s Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and occasionally teaches for the UC Berkeley, Department of Architecture. Now empty nesters, he and his wife Rosa live in Piedmont, California from where he heads out most mornings to train with his crew team on the Oakland Estuary before heading into the office in Oakland.