A space for all: Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Nonprofit HQ fitout improves functionality, accessibility for blind and low-vision individuals.

June 14, 2017 |

Photo courtesy Jasper Sanidad

Spanning three floors of a high rise in San Francisco, this 40,000-sf headquarters for one of the oldest social-services organizations in California represents the latest in design, technology, and training for blind and low-vision individuals. The space encompasses optometry exam rooms, a retail store showcasing adaptive technology devices, training rooms for hands-on learning of Braille and adaptive technology, a training kitchen, and 11 dorm rooms where up to 29 clients can stay onsite for immersive training. 

The project team developed subtle design features to ensure the spaces function well for everyone. Wayfinding is aided by a ring of polished concrete encircling the public areas on each floor, while open spaces are defined by metal floor transition strips to give an indication of spatial demarcation to cane users. In training rooms, bold-colored felt-wrapped acoustic panels are used because rich, saturated colors can be discerned by many with low vision. 

The design team even converted its drawings into tactile prints with raised line work to make them legible for blind stakeholders.


Building Team – Submitting firm, architect Mark Cavagnero Associates Owner LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired Structural engineer Murphy Burr Curry MEP engineer Glumac General contractor DPR

General Information – Size 2,600 sf Construction cost Withheld at owner’s request Construction time February 2016 to May 2016 Delivery method Design-build


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