Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - 38

EFA DESIGN SHOWCASE

Forward thinkers
EFA Design Showcase jurors share what trends emerged for them in reviewing this year's
program submissions and how those concepts paint a picture of where the industry is heading
next BY JENNIFER KOVACS SILVIS
lthough many traditional design solutions
were applied to senior living projects
submitted to this year's EFA Design
Showcase, communities also delivered an
impressive amount of variety in how they were
responsive to their specific markets. Among the
winners and finalists alone, there's a range of differentiating characteristics that support initiatives
focused on health and wellness, socialization and
multigenerational encounters, and affordable and
urban housing. "It's thrilling to see this diversity
in design," says juror Janice Sanada, principal at
LRS Architects (Portland, Ore.).
In all, 41 projects were reviewed, with each
first evaluated individually by the jury of senior
living design professionals appointed by partner
associations SAGE (Society for the Advancement of Gerontological Environments), The Center for Health Design, the International Interior
Design Association, and the American Society
of Interior Designers. In January, the group gathered for an in-person judging of the top-scoring
projects, determining which projects rose to the
top to earn awards. Five were named as finalists; four awarded an Honorable Mention; and
just one project was given our highest honor, the
Award of Merit.
During that meeting, held at senior living community Touchmark in the West Hills in Portland,
Ore., a 2019 Award of Merit winner, the jury spent
hours diving deep into the solutions delivered
and how they answer the needs of today's senior
living owners/operators, staff, residents, and
families. Those conversations also began the
process of teasing out the trends that these projects collectively represent, so Environments for
Aging followed up with the jury members to see
what stood out to them-highlights and areas for
improvement.

From aesthetics to operations
The overall aesthetics of projects represented
a complicated picture this year. "The projects
that stood out were clearly stepping outside of
the boundaries of what we could automatically
discern as 'senior living.' They maintained
38

EFAmagazine.com * Spring 2020

a certain timelessness and quality of design
that elevated the industry," says Hillary DeGroff,
senior associate at Perkins Eastman (Chicago).
Joseph Billig, senior vice president of architecture for Touchmark Development & Construction
(Beaverton, Ore.), agrees: "As an industry, it's
exciting to see owners, architects, and interior
designers continue to push the envelope with
beautiful and sophisticated exteriors and lightfilled interior spaces exquisitely detailed. Many
projects we reviewed could be resorts or highend condominiums."
However, those high notes were tempered
by a few related observations. For starters,
some jurors felt that hospitality-driven design at
times strayed too far. "I struggle a bit with how
far we take the hospitality approach in design.
While luxury and high-end are things that some
are looking for, people don't want to live in a
hotel," notes Amy Bursey, general manager at
Henrik & Co. (Minneapolis). Environmental gerontologist Lorraine Hiatt (New York) observed
the same, as well as some settings that went
in the opposite direction, already appearing
dated. "Interiors inspired by 1990s assisted
living and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) were prevalent and as jarring as
ultra-hospitality," she says.
Meanwhile, several jurors also noted
a disconnect between interior design
and architecture. "An interior is only as
good as the language it shares with the
architecture, and in order to achieve
that, the architect and interior
designer have to collaborate,"
DeGroff says. Billig agrees,
pointing to Award of
Merit winner Brio,

a WesleyLife Community for Healthy Living, as a
strong example in its reinforcement of a modern
farmhouse aesthetic on numerous levels, from
a timber frame structure to light fixtures to art.
"The more successful projects this year had a
consistent theme and design direction that drove
both the exterior and interior design decisions,"
he says.
Additionally, jurors noted that efforts to up
the ante on aesthetics at times resulted in less
innovative approaches to operations and layout.
Billig warns that delivering high-end models to
appeal to a younger demographic shouldn't
come at the cost of functional floor plans that
focus on resident and staff experience. "We
can't lose sight of our end users and the need to
balance curb appeal with innovative plans that
go beyond the double-loaded corridor," he says.
Hiatt also mentioned seeing numerous race-track
designs "where natural light was minimal, staff
and resident walking distances were excessive,
and the negative impact on memory function was
not thoughtfully resolved."
And while there were several successful
standalone skilled nursing and rehab projects
in this year's Showcase, Billig says that CCRC
settings, especially, tended to deliver on the
independent living side of the coin and miss on
their licensed care environments.
Issues he observed beyond floor
plans include large nurses' stations,
challenging sight lights, and minimal
outdoor space. "We have to find
a way to address a better
healthcare plan and not
force it in the same
box of an independent footprint," he


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Environments for Aging - Spring 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Environments for Aging - Spring 2020

Environments for Aging - Spring 2020
Contents
EFAmagazine.com
Editorial
Show Talk
Bulletin
Photo Tour
Community
New traditions
Smart techniques
Welcome
2020 jury/award winners and finalists
Forward thinkers
Meet in the middle
Standout solutions
Top marks
Project directory
EFA Design Showcase
The Spark
Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - Environments for Aging - Spring 2020
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - 1
Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - Contents
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - 5
Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - EFAmagazine.com
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - 8
Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - Editorial
Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - Show Talk
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - Bulletin
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - Photo Tour
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - Community
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - New traditions
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - Welcome
Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - 2020 jury/award winners and finalists
Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - Forward thinkers
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - Meet in the middle
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - Standout solutions
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - Top marks
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Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - Project directory
Environments for Aging - Spring 2020 - EFA Design Showcase
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