Who’s Leading the Charge in International Senior Housing Design

The deadline to enter the 2016 Senior Housing News Architecture & Design Awards is quickly approaching and time is running out to enter your community. Nominations are now open for the 2016 competition, but hurry—all entries must be submitted by November 11, 2016.

This highly-anticipated awards competition returns for the fourth year to recognize cutting-edge design, excellence and quality in senior living for 2016. This year, SHN has expanded the awards to include two new categories, Student Exhibition and International Community Design.

U.S.-based senior living developers are innovating stateside, but they’re also looking to their global counterparts when it comes to designing and building the latest crop of communities. Likewise, other countries look to the U.S. for cues when they are developing.

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From optimizing small spaces to integrating senior living with the community at large, we asked a few of our judges about senior housing opportunities abroad, and what the global design landscape looks like in comparison to the U.S. markets. Here’s what they had to say.

SHN: How does senior housing design in the U.S. stack up relative to the global design landscape?

Jeffrey Anderzhon, Senior Planning & Design Architect at Eppstein Uhen Architects: Senior housing design in the U.S. is still perceived as “leading edge” by care providers around the globe, particularly in the Far East. This is especially complimentary when one considers the myriad of building code and licensing regulations that must be accommodated and the ever-changing climate of reimbursement and payer sources. However, designers in the U.S. are short-sighted if they don’t observe what is being done elsewhere in the world and apply those ground-breaking concepts in their own designs as well as work diligently with authorities having jurisdiction to look beyond the code book and into what benefits the residents of senior living environments.

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Dan Cinelli, Principal & Executive Director at Perkins Eastman: Originally northern Europe was the leader. The U.S. took the lead as our population aged and the demand for housing options grew. The U.S. models are often more over regulated in higher levels of care than in other parts of the world. In China, they look to the US model as the gold standard. We are ahead of most countries when it comes to accessibility and its seamless integration into the architecture and interior design. Senior design in the US is much more integrated in terms of universal design, accessibility and aging in place principles.

We also need to integrate more of our senior housing into urban areas, particularly in comparison to Scandinavian countries where there is much more integration. The U.S. is still open to the criticism of “isolating” our seniors rather than integrating them.

David Dillard, Principal at D2 Architecture : Fortuitously, I just returned from a week in Germany and Austria and was reminded of the various methods that these cultures come up with to make good use of small spaces. I have traveled in Asia (less recently) as well and remember the same protocol – if one can meet the functional needs in less SF, one does. That said, in some hot spots within every building, size matters. This is particularly true in private bathrooms where water management is a constant nuisance, and where a caretaker (or two) needs space to physically assist residents who have mobility difficulties. The polite word for some of these residents who need more space is “bariatric.”

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The European projects also offer numerous examples of creative repositioning, outfitting very old buildings with up-to-date amenities required by code and current market demands. Finally, we see in Europe an admirable invisibility of senior communities hiding within the fabric of an urban center. To this American observer, at least, this comes off as intrinsically humane. These are the authentic and original templates for Traditional Neighborhood Development that find 90-year-olds next to 30-year-olds next to the grocery store … next to the pub.

John Cronin, Principal at AG Architecture: The United States is not the only country with a burgeoning senior population. While I believe that the U.S. is ahead of many other countries, there are so many different healthcare standards and cultural expectations to take into consideration. It is exciting to be a part of this industry and to watch the growth, development and innovations in this market across the globe.

Have you done a lot of international architecture work within your firm over the past few years? If yes, what’s one key difference between U.S. and the global senior housing market?

Manny Gonzalez, Principal at KTGY Architecture: KTGY is starting to grow its international work, especially since opening the office in Pune, India, but none of it is senior housing at this time.

Dean Maddalena, President of StudioSIX5: We designed the interiors of two senior living communities in Tokyo, Japan in the late 90s/early 2000s that still hold their own today. The culture in Japan allowed for shared program spaces for the different levels of care.

SHN is excited to welcome four new judges to our distinguished judging panel for the 2016 Design & Architecture Awards. SHN welcomes Dean Maddalena, President of StudioSIX5, Jihyun Song, Associate Professor of Interior Design and Director of Undergraduate Education at Iowa State University, Ward Isaacson, President of Pope Architects and Manny Gonzalez, Principal at KTGY Architecture.

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