Context - Summer 2016 - (Page 22)

SENIOR LIVING, LGBT STYLE AUTHOR: JOSEPH SALERNO, AIA, LEED AP In many ways, the John C Anderson Apartments (JCAA) is simply a typical affordable seniors housing project - one of dozens constructed each year in Pennsylvania with the support of Low Income Housing Tax Credits issued by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA). Its units are efficiently designed to reflect PHFA minimum standards and its indoor commons and support facilities are also limited in number and size to reflect those standards. However, as one approaches the building's 13th Street entrance and proceeds into its welcoming lobby, it becomes increasingly clear that this is not a typical seniors building. Whether it's the facility's layered and playful front façade, the collection of hand-me-down books that populate the shelving in JCAA's community living room, the views out to residents tending the gardens that dot its spacious courtyard, or the improvements individuals choose to make to personalize their apartments, one quickly realizes that this is an intentional community - one that has quickly blossomed to take on its own unique culture. The unusually strong sense of pride and stewardship that residents show in this facility is at least in part attributable to the fact that JCAA is the first affordable senior housing project to be built in the Eastern United States as "an LGBT-Friendly Community". It results from long and tireless efforts by leaders within Philadelphia's gay community to establish the importance of developing such a housing option and then to help secure the political support and funding 22  SUMMER 2016 | context | AIA Philadelphia necessary for its implementation. The completed project reflects the continued input of those leaders throughout the entire design and construction process. For WRT - the project's architect - many aspects of the JCAA assignment were quite familiar ones. A significant part of the firm's multi-disciplinary architecture, landscape architecture and planning practice has always been focused on community development and has often included the design of affordable as well as market-rate and specialized-care housing for older persons. However, the JCAA project also brought with it intriguing new challenges and opportunities that the firm was eager to take on. Many of these revolved around the non-traditional family structures, the affinities towards urban living, diversity and cultural awareness, and the progressive views about active aging and inter-generational inclusion that weave their way through much of LGBT life. Developing a design that reflected and supported this distinctive culture was strongly advocated for by the group that had first envisioned the project (Philadelphia's dmh Fund), supported by its for-profit developer (Philadelphia's Pennrose Properties) and embraced during sessions with representatives of the broader surrounding neighborhood (the Washington Square West Civic Association). The completed project reflects the collaborative input of these various stakeholders and demonstrates the value of this engaged approach in creating a truly healthy and sustainable living environment as well as in strengthening the neighborhood it exists in.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Context - Summer 2016

Editor's Letter
Up Close
Rediscovering the Neighborhood: Creating a healthy environment of Care at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Risky Business: The Dangers of Playgrounds That Are Too Safe
Senior Living, LGBT Style
Design Profiles
Index to Advertisers

Context - Summer 2016