Three quarters of the way through the first full day and I feel like I am trying to get a drink of water from a high pressure fire hose. The depth, breadth, and pace of the information that is flowing through the Environments for Aging Conference is amazing. There is an incredible spirit of collaboration, as well as competition, as we figure out ways to improve the environments for our seniors. It is collaborative in the fact that experts in their field are willing to share it all; nothing is held back. It is competitive, in the positive sense, as we press each other to new heights, to new ways of solving old problems—err, I mean challenges.
One of the challenges that I am facing is the need for cloning. Not of the speakers, but of me—with six concurrent sessions, there is no way to absorb all that there is to take in. Fortunately, the PowerPoints will be available online in a few weeks. Still, there is no substitute for “presentations in the flesh.” The sessions have been structured to really accommodate and enable dialogue among the participants and the presenters.
I sat through a code-oriented session that included a break-out dialogue to design the ideal bathroom for an elder. We still have a long way to go to escape the “design to meet the regulations” and enter into designing to meet needs. We all, from time to time, struggle with what is, rather than what could be. At the end of the day, we all said, “That was a dumb idea. Now, let’s figure out how we can make it work.”
After sitting through the DESIGN Competition award presentations, something became apparent: Award-winning design is a result of an intense collaboration between the owner, the architect, and the regulatory officials. The mutual respect that the architects and the owner had for each other was inspiring.
I will share more soon, but I need to get back to the fire hose….