I enjoy occasionally curating articles and passing them along, with a distinctively landscape architectural / planning spin added. So, when I perused Seniors Housing Business and the ASHH 50 Report, I thought I’d pass along what I gleaned for you here.
Interior Designers and Exterior Designers (aka landscape architects) should collaborate!
From Lynn Peisner’s article: Aging with Style
“ ‘Intergenerational design’ is a buzz phrase right now,” – that according to Melissa Spaeth Banko, principal of Banko Design. We like that! Way back in the ‘70s when Christopher Alexander and his colleagues wrote their landmark piece, A Pattern Language, they noted that “Old people need old people, but they also need the young, and young people need contact with the old.” It’s good to see that we are returning to this timeless truth. Let’s be intentional about doing what Banko advocates: “ . . . creating spaces where spontaneous social interactions can easily occur.” Good examples of multi-generational design can be found in both Ryan Frederick’s Smart Living 360 approach, and in Steve Shields’ work at Norterre.
Transcending the F-Word (facilities)
Diana Spellman, President of Spellman Brady & Co. describes the move toward reflecting the vibrant lifestyle that Boomers embrace. “We want our final product to remind people of the beautiful hospitality spaces they’ve visited or stayed in before. We’re on the forefront of making senior living communities not look like senior living communities. Seniors today are demanding more sophisticated and design-driven communities.” That doesn’t necessarily translate to bike rentals, towel and cabana service on the beach, and lazy rivers; but resort-style pools, hefty budgets for landscape development, and creating the memorable kind of outdoor places that people enjoy being in – absolutely!
Outward-facing Amenity Spaces
Karla Jackson, design director at StudioSIX5, tells of communities that are incorporating commercial venues such as coffee shops that are opened to the community at-large, rather than simply catering to the residents of the senior living community. This helps to combat the “silo effect”, integrating seniors into the warp and woof of the larger neighborhood. It also helps to foster those intergenerational relationships mentioned above.
Peisner says that “StudioSIX5 is creating outdoor areas that include a variety of seating, outdoor kitchens, bocce ball courts, putting greens and dog walking and washing areas.” We’ve done all of those, and a remote-control yachting regatta venue, a full dog park, and a fully accessible memory care garden with pop-jets, and a fountain surrounded by a custom-built glass etching by Luc Century, the artist who developed the etching technique used for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. The list of possibilities is endless. But the key to success is designing for the needs of the population being served. It’s all about enhancing their lives and wellbeing – not adding to our portfolio!
Employees Matter Too!
Our practice focuses on the notion of Enhancing Wellbeing through PLACE-Creation. But wellbeing is not limited to only the residents. The staff members need a respite too – they should be able to enjoy the proven therapeutic benefits of nature. That’s why Brenda Bacon, co-founder, president, and CEO of Brandywine Living says, “No longer can you have the employee lunchroom in some dark, windowless corner in the basement.”
Beyond Raised Beds to On-site Food Production
Lynn Peisner’s article cites the fact that “residents today want to grow their own vegetables and include them in meals they share with the community.” How cool would it be to open the dining venues at your senior living community to the public for a great Farm-to-Table experience? For more great info on this trend, download a copy of our free e-book titled (think Tina Turner here) What’s Food Got to Do, Got to Do with It?
Senior Living is a Complex Animal – but Incredibly Rewarding
That’s the gist of what Erikson Living’s Alan Butler told Jane Adler during a Q&A session for an exclusive report from the American Seniors Housing Association. “The business is far more complex than the average person might think. We are a combination of a lot of different types of businesses: development and construction, sales and marketing, healthcare, finance, dining, IT, etc. It takes a combination of a lot of skill sets to be successful in this business and you have to achieve excellence – consistently – in every area of the organization. It is very complex, but incredibly rewarding.”
That’s what I’ve discovered as well. I don’t believe I’ve ever done design that is more rooted and grounded in research. The practice of exterior design for senior living communities involves collaborating with gerontologists, occupational therapists, horticultural therapists, architects, interior designers, operators, engineers, owners, visionaries, and board members. At the end of the day, making a place where residents, their families, and your staff can be blessed is truly a blessing.
Independent Living 2.0 – Delivering an Experience
This is the title of another great article by Jane Adler that is contained in the ASHA report. In it, she cites trends that are making this lifestyle attuned to the needs of aging Boomers, in part because of the shift from a transactional model to more of an experiential model. My business partner, Scott Girard, cut his planning and design teeth within the Disney organization. In fact, he spent the better part of 30 years in and around that unique environment. Scott has authored an e-book called The Story: Connecting the Dots between Themed Development and Senior Living that discusses this same theme of delivering an experience.
Brad Smith is the founder of Brad Smith Associates, Inc., a mold-breaking exterior planning and design firm serving the aging services industry. Our approach puts people first, focusing on their unique needs while cultivating a deep sense of community. That is done by using a rational problem-solving method, infused with Imaginality™, combining the five key components of PLACE-Creation into our designs:
Planning - Applied foresight to achieve your project goals
Lifestyle - Delivering a better result for people by understanding their needs and lifestyles
Aesthetics - The aesthetics of a property speak to the "brand essence", greatly affecting marketing.
Community - a sense of meaning, identity and belonging for the people living there
Economics - informed decision-making on the front end during the design process can yield significant dividends on the back end (by reducing ongoing operations and maintenance costs).
Click the link below to find out more about PLACE-Creation