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Insights and Innovations: The State of Senior Housing (2010)


The Design for Aging Review (DFAR), a partner initiative of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA), conducts a competition every two years on housing innovation design for older adults. Since the first year of the biannual competition, DFAR has received 92 project submissions in four competition categories including Building, Planning/Concept Design, Affordability, and Research.

Key Points

The projects include facilities across nine building types (Senior Community Centers, Independent Living, Urban Living, Assisted Living, etc.) and many share common themes such as “connecting to the neighborhood, aging-in-place, connecting to nature, and implementing green/sustainable design” (page 9).

Other report highlights include:

  1. Planners and community leaders often need small, quick, and affordable innovations that will make a big difference. Examples cited in the report include constructing casework and cabinetry to hide medical equipment, adding adjustable fixtures and accessibility devices in Skilled Nursing bathrooms, integrating seniors and market rate housing in urban settings, and children’s play spaces to encourage family visits (pages 17-18). Each example cites locations where such innovations are being implemented.
  2. The Award-Winning Project Themes section covers broad themes shared by all submissions, and more importantly, provides case studies of implementation. Case studies featured in the report include Porter Hills Green House Homes, The Houses on Bayberry, Westminster Village Town Center, Tohono O’odham Elder Homes, Montgomery Place, and many more.

How to Use

This report acts as a resource for planners and local officials looking for innovative planning and design ideas to meet senior housing needs in their community. Planners, local officials, and housing designers can use this report to gain insight into innovative solutions for meeting the housing needs of older adults. Though the report states that understanding trends in housing design for older residents requires more time, it also demonstrates what designers and planners have achieved in their efforts to provide age-friendly housing models that will facilitate independent living and successful aging in place.

View full report: Insights and Innovations: The State of Senior Housing (2010) (PDF – 13 MB)

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