Back at the end of April, Arrive attended one of our favorite conferences of the year- Environments for Aging in Savannah, Georgia.
As the last several years in the Senior’s housing industry have shown, this is a realm that is truly adapting and changing day-by-day. As we learn more and more about how our elders are aging and the way that the built environment can impact the quality of their daily living, continual collaboration with the leaders in the industry is a must to keep current with discoveries made through research. To condense our takeaways from this year’s conference we have broken out two big themes of this year’s conference to expound on.
Design for the Next Generation:
What is really preferred in a retirement community? When was the last time we, as architects, or our clients as developers asked this question? As quickly as your smartphone becomes obsolete in today’s world, the preferences of the residents in our Independent Living and Assisted Living communities have changed as well. New polling results, and even real-time polling during Environments for Aging showed a marked change in what people want in a retirement community today, vs. just 3-5 years ago. While in past years, the top priority was the dining options, in a study presented at this year’s conference, Wellness, Social Interaction with the community at large, and Technology came in as the top 3 priorities. Dining came in 5th on that list. It’s not that people don’t care about the food anymore- it’s now the expectation and it’s assumed to be included.
Those polled also indicated their preference in a rental model vs. buy-in. Smaller, more intimate communities were favored over a large scale. And lastly, there was a growing number of Independent Living residents indicating that the ability to keep working once retired, AKA an ‘encore’ career is very important to them. Incorporating amenities to aid in that effort- such as campus-wide internet, meeting spaces they can access are now desired. The amenities are essential to attracting residents who may be hesitant to make the step to down-size from their single family home.
Nobody likes to read the code and dive deep into the nuances these projects require- that’s why you hire us. From the FGI Guidelines to the NFPA and the International Building Code- Senior Living development is regulated differently by different Cities, Counties, and States. We agree with presenters at this year’s conference: Senior Living is changing, and the codes are working (and struggling) to keep up. Suffice it to say, changes to the IBC in the 2015 and the 2018 editions of the code have really added quite a bit of content for Assisted Living and Memory care facilities. Here at home, in Texas, the I-2 occupancy and the safeguards it triggers will remain. Elsewhere, some improvements were made that make accommodating concerns of elopement, for instance, a feasibility in an I-1 building. This was previously not permitted. The same goes for Cooking Facilities and Meeting Spaces that are open to the Corridor. Provisions are now included that work better with these type of designs. Further, the IBC has broken out Assisted Living into more than (1) ‘condition’ which come with their own requirements. The moral of this story- we spent several hours pouring over the changes- so talk with us about your project, what you want to do, and we can help you navigate the various code requirements.
We are making great strides at Arrive to design better buildings for our Clients, and also for our elders. Senior Living is more than business for us, it is our passion and our driver.
See some of our photos from our time in Savannah: