This February, SFCS Architects hosted its 35th Annual By Design Conference, welcoming over 200 senior living industry professionals to Roanoke, Virginia. By Design delivers continuing education on the latest trends and research in senior living planning, architecture, and interior design. Executives, administrators, marketers, and planners were invited to Think Big and inspired to Dream Bigger, the theme of this year’s event.
By Design 2020 addressed the current challenges and opportunities in senior living with sessions ranging from lessons in Post Occupancy Evaluations to innovations in WELL Building Standards, with many focused on the development of new concepts designed to meet the needs of the next generation of seniors.
Keynote Speaker, Kenyon Salo, kicked off the conference with a passionate, enthusiastic call to live “The Bucket List Life: Create More Experiences, Share More Stories, and Live More Fulfilled.” A member of the Denver Broncos Thunderstorm Skydive Team, Salo offered valuable perspective on living life to the fullest. Setting an inspired tone for the conference, he directed attention to the value of life’s experiences as a framework for re-thinking senior living. Salo’s final takeaway? Creating experiences, despite limitations, allows us to feel alive and more fulfilled. In terms of senior living, industry professionals were encouraged to apply Salo’s insight to enhance the lives of those they serve.
The inspiration continued through the three-day conference, which emphasized the use of research, data, and past experiences to shape the future of senior living and long-term care. Through interactive and informative programming, SFCS’s 2020 By Design proved that studying survey results, analyzing current studies, and exploring innovative technologies would best equip key industry players in enriching the quality of life for the seniors and staff members of tomorrow’s designed communities.
Inevitably, the impending arrival of Baby Boomers has made a significant impact on the future of long-term care management. Capacity is of course a concern to many communities preparing to serve the incoming generation, but is there a solid understanding of these seniors’ living preferences? In order to stay competitive, life plan communities (LPC) and senior living facilities must consider the shifting preferences of this large population of consumers. Recent studies and longitudinal survey results show that Baby Boomers are more informed consumers than their predecessors. Additional findings show it’s becoming more important to factor social and emotional wellbeing into the overall experience. In short, residents of the future want access to a life that’s as diverse as it is enriching.
Environmentally speaking, a “green” future can do more than save energy and decrease a community’s footprint. Dr. Whitney Austin Gray, Senior Vice President of the International WELL Building Institute, painted an eye-opening picture of the ways in which healthier environments can play a critical role in the success of any life plan community (LPC). Dr. Gray offered the WELL Building Standard as a solution for LPCs, reaching beyond environmental concerns to address a holistic view of healthy living for both senior residents and staff members.
In a collaboration with Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture and Design, SFCS presented an open studio as part of the By Design experience. The display allowed industry professionals to see first-hand the innovative projects being created by Virginia Tech’s industrial design students. On exhibit were products and services created to enhance the lives of seniors and their caregivers, all of which were inspired by the students’ conversations with the residents of Warm Hearth Retirement Village in Blacksburg, Virginia. The trans-disciplinary partnership between SFCS and Virginia Tech has been in existence for ten years and has produced award-winning projects in innovative design.
Some of the most visually compelling tales of transformation come in the form of a great “Before and After”. The Seabury Case Study, presented by SFCS, is one of those dynamic success stories. The firm outlined the all-too-common challenges of maintaining the Bloomfield, Connecticut independent living facility for a new generation of residents. A repositioning and expansion designed to transform the community into a more competitive option added 68 new independent-living apartments, a fitness center, an auditorium, and more connected walkways. The dramatic changes to the physical structures at Seabury were further supported by the implementation of sustainable design practices and improved strategies for long-term growth.
As impressive as they are, activities and amenities are only part of the equation. Tomorrow’s senior living consumers have unprecedented agency over their available living options. For the first time, industry professionals are enlightened about the benefits of whole-person wellness, healthy living environments, and innovative design practices developed from research and outcomes of recent senior living populations. It’s critical that we rethink aging and SFCS is on the front lines of that revolution, continuously delivering models of success for today’s market.