James Cramer Reflects on George H.W. Bush’s Impact on Universal Design

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James P. Cramer, AIA Chief Executive (1988-1994) and part-time lecturer in the Georgia Tech School of Architecture discusses George H.W. Bush's contributions to universial design and its impact on architecture and building construction.

When architects think of the White House and U.S. Presidents who have influenced design thinking, often the examples cited go way back in history.  For instance, President Teddy Roosevelt would occasionally stroll down New York Avenue and 18th Street to the Octagon House to have dinner with architect Cass Gilbert (among others). Dreams for the future were hatched and plans were developed.

But this week we are reminded that there are other examples showing how the White House and the profession often work together across political lines.  One example at the top of all examples this week is the leadership role of President George H.W. Bush and the ADA. The civil rights act for universal design.

On July 26, 1990 the ADA act was signed into law.  This has had the effect of removing architectural barriers to enable the physically marginalized to be respected and for universal design to be adopted.  All across America building codes and professional standards have changed. Construction was slowed and in some cases stopped for modifications. 

ADA became one of the boldest civil rights initiatives of the 20th Century.  We remember this at the time of George Herbert Walker Bush’s passing.  His design leadership working with the profession and across political boundaries is remembered with great admiration and thanks.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: cwagster3
  • Created: 12/10/2018
  • Modified By: cwagster3
  • Modified: 12/10/2018



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