Monday, April 10, 2017


For those who may frequent architect curated blogs, it may be an easy sell that design professionals can bring an inherent value to the process of transforming spaces.  Our business is all about changes, whether we are creating a new building on a bare site, or reimagining an existing shell into a client’s new vision.  

While creating a brand new ‘something’ out of ‘nothing’ is always satisfying, the most drastic and simplistic method of comparing how the world looks without the touch of talented designers may be the ‘before and after’.  That is just the visual juxtaposition of what someone used to have, and how it was changed for the better.  Clients, regardless of their ability to visualize the built environment, can immediately get the ‘before and after’.  The more drastic the change, the easier to grasp the change.

A casual dining option 'Before' 
The same casual dining option 'After'

The above Cafe was renovated in the same footprint to update it.  We were blessed with high ceilings and an abundance of natural light.  Not only were the aesthetics changed, but the options and services were as well.  That takes a commitment from the operator to invest in both buildings and staff.

But what happens when someone's preconceptions must be changed?  Of an entire building type?

In some areas of the country, the idea of a Senior Living Environment may invoke images of rest homes.  The physical environment can reinforce this idea...or it can change your perception. There are about 2,500 Continuing Care Retirement Communities in the U.S.  Depending on where you live, the current level of acceptance of this living option may be drastically different than others.  Where I sit, there are more than a dozen non-profit retirement campuses within 20 miles.  That means that the percentage of retirees that choose this option is extremely high, so the familiarity rate is also high. This is not the case in all areas.  Many have an antiquated view of the facilities and services available to them.

Many people think of this...
...or this.  Sewing must be the activity of the day, right?

Catering to more active residents requires a change in the way services are provided to clients by the community, but may also require updated infrastructure and facilities.

Activities...before.  In the past we designed these suffleboard courts in VCT, yes.

Outdoor livin'...before.  Rocker upon rocker.

Outdoor livin'...after.  Active outdoor amenities.  Bocce, outdoor kitchen...
Roof top living amenities.

This kind of change is unrelenting.  Trends only last so long.  Years ago, all retirement facilities had several shuffleboard courts and sewing centers in their activities centers.  Now there’s bocce, and pickle ball, and water polo.  Many residents in communities still work.  Who knows what Millennials will be in to when they finally get to this stage of their lives?  I have already been involved with my fair share of renovations of my OWN work over the last two decades.  That is okay, because we should always be thinking about who will be living here tomorrow.

And don't think that changes are limited to amenities.  Communities cater to clients like they have never before.  You have dogs?  We have a dog park.  You like to garden?  We have a place for you to do that, too.  You want to customize your kitchen?  Sure!  You like to live in the buff?  We got that, err, covered?  Or is the right term uncovered?

The large glazed area in the photo center is the master shower.
View from the shower.
That's right.  This unit was custom made apartment for folks who wanted virtually no walls or doors within their unit.  The place was decked out with four electric fireplaces and four ceiling fans...and a see-through shower.

I am guessing the next folks to move in here may not like the layout, so certainly, I see change in the future.

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series (led by Bob Borson of Life of an Architect ) where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is led by Lora Teagarden and is "The Architecture of Change".  A lot of other talented writers who also are architects are listed below and are worth checking out:
-->Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Architect(ure) of Change

-->Collier Ward - One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Architecture of Change

-->Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
architecture of change: #architalks

-->Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Change -- The Document Evolution

-->brady ernst - Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
The Architecture of Change: R/UDAT

-->Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Architecture = Change

-->Michael LaValley - Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
My Architecture of Change / Hitting Pause to Redesign My Life

-->Brinn Miracle - Architangent (@architangent)
Architecture of Change: Building a Legacy

-->Samantha R. Markham - The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
3 Things I Hope Change in Architecture

-->Nisha Kandiah - ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
The art of Architecture of Change

-->Mark Stephens - Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
The Architecture of Change

-->Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks : Architecture of Change

-->Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
architecture for change

-->Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
architecture of change

-->Jeffrey Pelletier - Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Imagining the Future of Architecture

-->Rusty Long - Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
Architecture of Change


  1. James, thanks for the images of Senior Living changes.


  2. james, my daughter was told to go into architecture because that's how her "what you should be software" told her to go, she decided that she didn't want this type of lifestyle and so she went into social work and she works with people with severe dementia and alzheimer's, she enjoys the work and her workplace looks very similar to the project with the bocce ball court. thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Michele. The people who run the programs in our buildings are really the reason for their success. My grandmother dealt with alsheimer's and ended up living in one of our buildings. If you get the right people caring for your loved ones, it really is a Godsend. Thanks for the comment!