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2011 Roundtable: Collaboration drives design innovation

March 23, 2011
by Patricia Sheehan, Editor-in-Chief
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Stakeholders' involvement in design process inspires creative outcomes

Collaboration and community involvement are common themes in this year's DESIGN roundtable discussion. Jurors become particularly animated when discussing the growing trend of mixed-use communities that are indigenous to their locations and integrate intergenerational activity-as seen in, for example, one urban project that is located adjacent to a vibrant university with an appealing mix of cultural, educational, social, and retail options. Sure, the suburban CCRC model still rules most development models, but industry observers anticipate a migration of adventurous Baby Boomers to inner-ring and inner-city communities and the design challenges and opportunities that trend will present.

As part of DESIGN's editorial coverage, each year our distinguished panel of jurors wrap up its judging duties with a lively roundtable discussion addressing this year's submissions and general trends and issues in senior living design. These seasoned pros, representing architects, interior designers, academics, and providers, are passionate advocates for their clients, their industry, and the residents who ultimately, and hopefully, benefit from forward-thinking, person-centered design.

DESIGN 2011 Jury

Andrew Alden, associate AIA, ASA, GSA, SAGE, senior associate, Engberg Anderson, Inc.; Mary Bowers, chief operating officer, Senior Living Communities; Kaye Brown, PhD, adjunct associate professor, Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University and adjunct associate professor, Anthropology, Boston University; Amy Carpenter, AIA LEED, principal, WRT/Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC; Meldrena Chapin, PhD, IDEC, EDRA, professor of interior design, graduate interior design program coordinator, Savannah College of Art and Design-Atlanta; David Dillard, AIA, principal, D2 Architecture; Carol Reitter Elia, ASID, LEED-AP, CR DESIGN; Mitchell S. Elliott, AIA, chief development officer, Vetter Health Services, Inc.; Larry Funk, associate administrator, Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center; Skip Gregory, NCARB, Health Facility Consulting, LLC; Walter R. Havener, RLA, LEED AP, Lappas + Havener; Alan Moore, AIA, chairman, CJMW Architecture; Karen Nichols, executive director, Cascades Verdae; Jude Rabig, RN, PhD, vice president, Masonic Health Institute; Barbara Summerford, president, GMK Interiors; Charlie Wilson, senior vice president, Buckner Retirement Services, Inc.

While this year's submissions included some creative, forward-thinking designs, the number of quality projects was thought to have declined from last year. Jurors suggest the effects of the Great Recession are coming to bear on senior living development. “Last year, we were still seeing projects that were started and completed before the recession,” says Alan Moore. “Now we're seeing the full effects of the recession and its aftermath; that was reflected in more HUD, skilled nursing, and independent living projects. One of the projects we reviewed…was a conversion of an existing medical building to an assisted living freestanding household. These all seem to be part of an effort to do projects with less money. Even at the higher end of the spectrum, we saw CCRCs that were searching for a way to do things at less cost, or for less financial risk.” Kaye Brown suggests the exception to that trend is readily available capital pools for government-funded, institutional facilities.

As new construction is a limited option in tough economic times, some communities are taking a creative approach to renovating existing structures, a challenge “when we have thousands across the United States and we're trying to change the model of care in the existing building,” says Andrew Alden. “If you don't have the capital for new construction, designers have to be creative and do the best they can to meet the needs of the owner within an existing envelope.”

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