Embossed Digital Print, 2015; Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects (San Francisco, California, USA, founded 1988) with Chris Downey (American, born 1962) for San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (San Francisco, California, USA, founded 1902); Courtesy of LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

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1304, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 2015

This display consists of two tactile drawings, four handrail models, four stair tread models, and an audio-visual spatial model. These elements reveal the process of creating architecture for non-visual experience. Architect Chris Downey became blind after surgery for a brain tumor. Downey, who continues to practice architecture, consulted with Mark Cavagnero Associates and Arup to design a new facility for San Francisco's LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Downey says, "I'm interested in how to convey delight in architecture whether it is seen or not."

  • Acoustic Model Video, 2018, 2:00 minutes

    The video shows how architect Chris Downey and acoustic designer Shane Myrbeck (Arup) modelled the sound of the LightHouse environment.

    Shane Myrbeck, Arup, with Chris Downey (American, born 1962) for San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (San Francisco, California, USA, founded 1902); Courtesy of Arup

  • Embossed Digital Prints, 2015

    Two tactile drawings depict floor plans. Drawings like these enable communication between sighted and non-sighted designers.

    Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects (San Francisco, California, USA, founded 1988) with Chris Downey (American, born 1962) for San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (San Francisco, California, USA, founded 1902); Courtesy of LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

  • Railing Section Prototypes, 2015

    Four 3D-printed models represent different approaches to designing a railing for a staircase. The first three designs displayed here were tested with users and evaluated for their tactile properties. The fourth sample is the final design.

    Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects (San Francisco, California, USA, founded 1988) with Chris Downey (American, born 1962) for San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (San Francisco, California, USA, founded 1902); Courtesy of Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects

  • Stair Tread Prototypes with Alternate Nosing Profiles, 2015

    Four wooden stair treads have different front edges. The first design has a metal edge—this would have been too loud when tapped with a mobility cane. "The stair's acoustic attributes animate the space," Chris Downey says. "We intentionally didn't carpet the stair. If you carpet the stair it disappears to a blind user."

    Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects (San Francisco, California, USA, founded 1988) with Chris Downey (American, born 1962) for San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (San Francisco, California, USA, founded 1902); Courtesy of Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects

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This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition The Senses: Design Beyond Vision.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1159162499/ |title=1304, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 2015 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=26 November 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>