Pushing Buttons

Trump reportedly pressured architect to remove braille from Trump Tower elevators

East Professional Practice
Barbara Res, a former executive overseeing construction for the Trump Organization, recently claimed that Donald Trump once tried to remove braille signage from Trump Tower. (Courtesy Bin im Garten)
Barbara Res, a former executive overseeing construction for the Trump Organization, recently claimed that Donald Trump once tried to remove braille signage from Trump Tower. (Courtesy Bin im Garten)

Barbara Res, the former vice president of construction for the Trump Organization, recently published an op-ed in the New York Daily News, which alleges that Donald Trump once pressured an architect to remove the braille signage from the elevators in Trump Tower in New York City.

Res, who supervised the construction of the Manhattan skyscraper in the early 1980s, recalled being present as one of its architects showed Trump the newly installed elevator cabs. She says Trump was puzzled by the little raised dots on the button panel and demanded that they be taken off.

When informed that braille was required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the future president of the United States became furious. “Get rid of the [expletive] braille. No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower,” she remembered him shouting.

“The more the architect protested, the angrier Trump got…As a general rule, Trump thought architects and engineers were weak as compared to construction people. And he loved to torment weak people,” wrote Res, a professional engineer. She went on to explain that this was a typical “Trump-style win-win,” which allowed him to belittle a subordinate while setting up a scapegoat for any repercussions his “ridiculous orders” may bring.

Although Res did not identify the architect, many have speculated that it was Der Scutt, the tower’s lead designer, who died in 2010. The firm responsible for the project, Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell, changed principals several times in the years that followed and filed for bankruptcy in 2015, making it difficult to corroborate the story. However, as noted by Snopes, a fact-checking website, neither the White House nor the Trump Organization have refuted it.

For those familiar with president’s history of ableist comments, his organization’s suspected housing discrimination, and his administration’s hard-line position against health and safety regulations, these new allegations come as no surprise.

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