Arrive Process & Design

Environments for Aging: Active Aging on College Campuses

By April 25, 2016 No Comments

Earlier this month- a group of our Senior’s Housing designers had the privilege of attending the Environments for Aging conference in Austin, TX.

As a firm, Arrive has dedicated itself to being at the forefront of Senior Living, which means staying current on the latest research and trends impacting how we design housing- both for the aging, and those needing assistance to carry out their every day tasks.  This article is Part 1 of a multi-blog series on topics impacting the ever-changing world of Senior Living.

Active Aging on College Campuses

A topic generating interest again at this year’s conference has been the concept of retirement communities that are connected, and affiliated with a University campus, UBRCs.  A UBRC is a University Based Retirement Community.

At Arrive, we have firsthand access to a case study- one of our own projects- and many of the thoughts shared at EFA, ring true to our experience.

Lisa Morgenroth, AAIA and Michael Hanley, AIA outlined 5 Elements that can make it or break it with the implementation of this model.

“Adjacency is a struggle”

As is the case with all real-estate, location is key. Making a Senior Living community part of an active college campus poses the challenge of proximity. Often, developers learn that any land in close proximity to the campus, seems to be slated for student housing, not seniors.  By locating the community too far from campus, the ability to use the University’s resource network diminishes.

“Form a ‘Connect Committee’ “

The program and relationship between the University and the Senior Community must be well developed. A dedicated liaison is a wise decision.  A case study, The Village at Penn State, is a good example- where a strong program offers opportunities only available in the UBRC model, such as auditing college courses that interest seniors free of charge.  Transportation is provided to and from University events- such as concerts, sporting events, and guest speakers. These opportunities give the UBRC a “leg-up” in quality of life activities.

“Offer a Continuum of Care Options”

Continuing care models are nothing new. Anyone who has been in senior living knows the benefits to aging in place and having an array of care options.  This same concept rings true with the UBRC.

“A Long Road to Fruition”

The financial relationship between the community and the university is a complex topic- honestly- your architect may not be the one to help out with this one.  What we do know, is that the ROI on the UBRC model, takes longer than Multi-family and student housing. This means there are hurdles in convincing the University and investors that the project is the best use of land and money.

“Alumni as Residents”

Lastly, nothing seems to make more sense than proud alumni returning to retire in style at their alma-mater. The reality, which we have witnessed,  is that most of these communities are leasing to locals. With a well defined mission, this hurdle is easily overcome but this can certainly change the way that we market these communities.

At Arrive, we see great potential with this model and it’s something we’ve been successful at, our Raider Ranch project in Lubbock, TX .  Continue to follow our blog for part-two of our take-aways from EFA 2016.

Michael Fittz, AIA, Project Architect | ARRIVE Architecture Group


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