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National Forum on Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities

Ronald L. Mace

Design Pioneer and Visionary of Universal Design

We regret to report that Ron Mace, nationally and internationally recognized architect and industrial designer, died at his home in Raleigh on June 29, 1998. He was a design pioneer and a visionary responsible for the concept of universal design, a belief that good design addresses the needs for all people, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life.

Mr. Mace recently spoke and participated in the National Forum on Careers in the Arts at the Kennedy Center on June 14-16, 1998. Further Ron Mace was a key design consultant on accessibility for the recent renovation of the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

Born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1941, Ron contracted polio at the age of nine. He grew up in Winston-Salem, NC and graduated from the School of Design at NC State University in 1996 with a Bachelor’s degree in architecture. After four years of practicing conventional architecture, Ron became involved in an effort to produce the first building code for accessibility in the nation. This code became mandatory in North Carolina in 1973 and served as a model for other states. Ron’s pioneering work in accessible design was instrumental in the passage of national legislation prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities, the Fair Housing Amendments Acts of 1988 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Ron was President of Barrier Free Environments, Inc., and Principal of BFE Architecture, P.A. in Raleigh. He was also Research Professor in the Architecture Department at the School of Design, NC State University. In 1989, he established the federally-funded Center for Accessible Housing, later renamed the Center for Universal Design, at the School of Design, NC State University. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and received the Distinguished Service Award in promoting dignity, equality, independence and employment of people with disabilities.

Ron was preceded in death by his wife, Lockhart Follin-Mace, the former Executive Director of the Governor’s Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities, who died in 1991. He is survived by his life-partner, Joy Weeber, and close personal friend, Leslie Young, both of Raleigh, and his nephew William H. Mace III and wife, Deborah Brown Mace of Winston- Salem, NC.

A national memorial service is being planned at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC on Monday September 14, 1998.

The Ronald L. Mace Memorial Fund has been established to further Ron’s vision for the future. Contributions may be made to c/o The Center for Universal Design, Box 8613, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8613. For more information, you may contact the Center at (919) 515-3082.

Read Mr. Mace's paper, "Arts Access"


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