Judging the best in senior living design

Last week a highly esteemed, high-spirited group of long-term care designers, architects, providers, and academics convened in Greenville, South Carolina, at The Cascades Verdae, an upscale CCRC, to face a formidable task: judging 38 entries in Long-Term Living’s annual senior living design contest. Among the group were representatives from the Society for the Advancement of Gerontological Environments (SAGE), the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), and the Center for Health Design (CHD).

These professionals, experienced in LTC design, operations, management, and policy issues, carefully and methodically reviewed each detailed submission and freely expressed their opinions on the quality of the work. Some designs were inspiring in their use of space, materials, and resident-focused features. Some designs were deflating in their conventional, dated, and institutional layouts. And there was one submission that wowed judges and this editor alike with its artistic use of materials, innovative use of space, and sensitivity to the needs of its residents.

I was impressed by the variety of projects, which covered the full spectrum of senior living today: from a low-income, government-funded nursing home; to a moderate-income, independent living facility located next to a vibrant urban college campus; to a progressive, upscale hospice nestled in an idyllic country setting. The best designs married interior and exterior design and flow in an intuitive, natural way.

Reactions to the submissions ranged from “provocative,” in describing an avant garde exterior, to praise for community integration and use of indigenous features. Criticism was leveled at the “ubiquitous use of prairie-style architecture,” country kitchens, and especially porte cocheres, which one judge said “scream senior living,” even if functionally they’re necessary.

You can check out the winning designs for yourself in Long-Term Living’s March DESIGN supplement. They also will be showcased at our Environments for Aging conference, to be held March 20-22 in Atlanta. Click here for more information on the conference, which will offer valuable educational sessions and networking opportunities.

Topics: Design