President Barack Obama has made a number of new appointments to the various boards and advisories that the President staffs. The White House emailed a release today saying that one of those appointments went to a major architect. President Obama appointed Michael Graves, FAIA, to the Architecture and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. Does that mean that President Obama is a huge fan of Postmodernism? There is almost no other way to interpret the appointment.
The board, which is known more popularly as the U.S. Access Board, is an independent agency that ensures that design accounts for people with disabilities. It was established in 1973 by Congress to ensure access for the disabled to federally funded facilities, but it has since grown into a broader library of information regarding accessibility and design.
Graves, whose bio is now posted on the White House website, has used a wheelchair since suffering a spinal infection in 2003. He is a rare advocate for accessibility-minded design who has lived life both as an abled and disabled person. (He is something of a rare design talent, too.)
In 2010, The Washington Post's Philip Kennicott wrote a feature on ability, accessibility, and design after Graves visited the nation's capital to talk at "Revealing Culture," an exhibit he designed for the Smithsonian Institution's International Gallery. By the sounds of it, Graves is a mutual admirer of President Obama.