Entertaining real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
Entertaining and compelling real-life stories. The author is successful business, real estate, and media entrepreneur Dick Kazan.
Published on October 29th 2019
Chris Downey: A blind architect

Chris Downey
Chris Downey Photo: dailycal.org

Among the 7-billion people in the world, a blind architect is extremely rare, for sight is supposedly mandatory to read and create architectural drawings.

Yet in San Francisco, Chris is amazing people with his architectural work. How does he do this?

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After losing his sight 11-years-ago when a brain tumor by his optic nerve was surgically removed, Chris, now 56 had to learn how to function independently.

With the support of his wife Rosa and their son Renzo, he became a student at the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

There he learned to navigate a sightless world, doing what the sighted take for granted including how to use public transportation, scramble an egg, read a book or cross the street.

To remain an architect, Chris located a printer that prints architectural drawings in Braille form.

Chris Downey
Photo: curbed.com

He also began using malleable sticks he overlays on those drawings to illustrate his design ideas and he uses special software to receive and communicate in email.

The results have been phenomenal.

Chris helped design a rehab center for military veterans with sight loss, helped design a new eye center at Duke University Hospital and advised Microsoft on sightless designs.

Chris Downey
Photo: hok.com

He also helped to design San Francisco’s new 4-city-block long Transportation Center making it much more blind accessible.

And when the LightHouse created their new headquarters, Chris was their ideal architect, today also serving as their Board President.

So, if others tell you your dream is impossible, think of Chris and pursue that dream with all your heart.

Editor's Note: To learn more, click here and here. To visit the LightHouse website, click here. To learn more about San Francisco’s Transportation Center, click here.

In the next KazanToday: A profound gift that saved a man’s life.

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