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An Architect’s Story: Chris Downey

“My vision for architecture is pretty ambitious. It’s about so much more than just making a beautiful building. It’s about making connections, extending community and bringing more people together.” Chris Downey, AIA, Architect.

Chris Downey on set in Berkeley, California for the recent production of An Architect’s Story: Chris Downey. Photo: Beatrice Seifert.

Chris Downey on set in Berkeley, California for the recent production of An Architect’s
Story: Chris Downey. Photo: Beatrice Seifert.

Chris Downey is an architect, a planner and a consultant based in the San Francisco, Bay Area who lost his sight in 2008. The documentary presented by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), An Architect’s Story: Chris Downey, showcases the impact of Downey’s work in the community, and how his work and teaching inspire the next generation of emerging architects.

Chris Downey demonstrates a technique he leverages to design using the sense of touch to one of his architecture students, Sana Jahani. Photo: Beatrice Seifert.

Chris Downey demonstrates a technique he leverages to design using the sense of
touch to one of his architecture students, Sana Jahani. Photo: Beatrice Seifert.

“Both the visually impaired and the sighted rely on information and architectural cues to navigate the built environment. I draw upon my experience as an architect to help design teams and client organizations to create enriching environments for the visually impaired and, not coincidentally, the sighted as well,” Chris says of his approach to design.

“So to look up is to really appreciate the environment around you. And to look into unexpected places, and to see things and experience things that you might otherwise miss out on.”

“I am always very careful to say that I am an architect without sight, not without vision. My idea of vision is to see with more than just your eyes.”

His work ranges from a new Department of Veterans Affairs blind rehabilitation center, to renovations of housing for the blind in New York City, and to the new Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco. Learn more about Chris Downey and his unique approach on his website.

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Stay tuned for the release of The Making Of An Architect’s Story: Chris Downey on June 18, a behind the scenes look at the production through the lens of the emerging architect and filmmaker who brought this film to life, as well as for an opportunity to get involved in the campaign by telling your own story of an inspirational architect. #ilookup