Braitmayer, Karen

Karen Braitmayer

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  • BA Rice University, 1982
  • MArch University of Houston, 1985

Years of practice

1986– (estimated)


  • Callison Architecture, Seattle
  • Studio Pacifica, Seattle

Professional organizations

  • Became AIA fellow in 2004




Prior to founding Studio Pacifica in Seattle in 1993, Karen Braitmayer worked with retail clients at Callison Architecture. Consulting for accessibility grew out of her personal experience as a wheelchair user and an architect, and became a prime area of interest for her in 1990.

Karen Braitmayer has focused her career on advocacy and design for universal accessibility. Begnning in 1989, she participated in the development of codes and standards to ensure that the Washington State Accessibility Code reflects the needs of the citizens of Washington.  Her work with local, state, and national building code processes in key appointed and testimonial roles helped advance successful legislation. Results attributable to her effort include Washington’s distinction (in 1994) for having the first state accessibility code certified by the US Department of Justice as meeting the standards of the then-new Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. She served as an appointed member of the Washington State Building Code Council, representing persons with disabilities, from 1994 through 2001.

She effectively combines her extensive community service with a portfolio of disability consulting projects, on key public and private facilities in and beyond Washington, including community stadiums, museums, library, light rail development plans and improvements to SeaTac airport.  She has also provided expert testimony in cases involving compliance with federal regulations.

A frequent and enthusiastic speaker to other professionals and the general public on the topics of accessibility, universal design and the art of turning your differences into your strengths, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Center and of the Braitmayer Foundation.  In 2004, ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition featured Karen and her work on the makeover of a home for the family of a boy with Osteogenesis Imperfecta.

The AIA College of Fellows inducted Karen Braitmayer in 2004.  The Orange County (CA) Goodwill honored Karen with its 2005 Walter Knott Award, which recognizes individuals “for their contributions and their fortitude to follow their dreams and champion the spirit of ability.”

Personally, Ms. Braitmayer has found that life as a wheelchair user offers much excitement! She loves boating, has sailed competitively, travels extensively, and juggles life as wife and mom to a busy daughter. As someone who does not let the perceived or physical limitations of the world slow her down, she makes a wonderful and inspiring advocate for accessibility and the need for all people to have the freedom to participate in any activity, environment or experience that they may choose.