For years, retirement communities have largely operated on a one-size-fits-all model providing hospitality and healthcare services to a wide spectrum of residents, but the boomers are expected to usher in a new era that will impact senior living design and service offerings.
“One of the advantages we see with the latest demographic trends is, there are many new alternative niche markets [that exist]. In the past, there was more of an attitude of “one-size-fits-all,” says Leslie Moldow, a principal at Perkins Eastman, an international architecture and design firm which services ranging from interior design, planning, landscape architecture, and project management.
The Greatest Generation and its predecessors have traditionally been willing to adapt to their surroundings. Future generations aren’t expected to be so compliant, and paying attention to generational shifts in preferences is becoming increasingly important.
“If you don’t fine-tune to the niche market, you’ll be missing the market,” says Moldow. “The boomers and the silent generation are more geared to, ‘I’m me, I’m unique, I have my own philosophy, etc., so I want a community really tailored to me.'”
Both the market demands the idea of creating a niche, she says, and the “vast numbers” of older adults entering the market.
D2 is currently designing a senior living project in San Antonio for a client, and Dillard says it will look very different than what might be designed for Dallas.
“What San Antonio 85-year-olds want, Dallas or Austin doesn’t always want,” he says. “We do work from California to Virginia, and we have to become one with that local culture.”
San Antonio is “more of a blue jeans community” that’s a lot less formal than Dallas, a city whose inhabitants trend more toward elegance and sophistication, according to Dillard.
Written by Alyssa Gerace