For years, people perceived elderly housing negatively. Residents had lost their independence, the thinking went, and been “put out to pasture.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Many seniors today are retiring in luxury. Their lavish senior communities are a far cry from their granny’s Victorian-style nursing homes – as evidenced by recent senior-housing design winners.
Present-day senior-living facilities can offer all the amenities of a five-star resort – complete with swimming pools, fitness centers and bistros. And they’re being designed with eco-friendly features to satisfy environmentally conscious Baby Boomers.
The Best of Senior Housing Design Today
Senior Housing News every year, in its Architecture & Design Awards, recognizes projects and companies working to improve the lives of seniors through innovative design. The 2016 winners were announced in December. Check out the photos and descriptions below to see the best of senior housing design in five major categories.
Continuing Care Retirement Community Winner
Carolina Bay | Wilmington, North Carolina
Carolina Bay offers independent living apartments and garden flat condos over 24 acres. Its design evokes a country club or resort with an architectural style known as “Cape Fear Heritage.” The style, featuring wraparound porches, is found in historic homes in downtown Wilmington. As a CCRC, Carolina Bay’s on-site health center offers assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care. Carolina Bay has four dining options, including a reservations-only fine dining restaurant.
Runner-up: Rose Villa, Portland, Oregon.
Affordable Housing Winner
CityScape At Belmar | Lakewood, Colorado (Denver metro)
CityScape At Belmar is a senior apartment complex in the heart of Lakewood, within walking distance of shopping and transportation. Designed with Baby Boomers in mind, CityScape offers fitness centers, a cultural theater, wireless internet, community garden beds, and a community kitchen and bistro. To be environmentally friendly, it also has recycling chutes on each floor and solar-power panels on the roof. Seventy percent of its units are reserved as affordable senior housing.
Runner-up: Monteverde Senior Apartments, Orinda, California (San Francisco Bay area).
Assisted Living Winner
Rosemark at Mayfair Park | Denver, Colorado
Rosemark at Mayfair Park in Denver, Colorado, offers assisted living and memory care residences. Locally owned and managed, the community says it was designed with eco-friendly carpets and paints and senior-friendly furniture. Rosemark also boasts of an indoor-outdoor patio, with a two-sided fireplace, that opens onto a garden and fountain. You’ll even find a spa with a massage room.
Independent Living Winner
Overture Plano offers contemporary 55+ apartments with 14 different floor plans, all featuring gourmet kitchens, walk-in closets, and wood flooring. Across 16,000 square feet of community space, residents will find a fitness center, yoga and art studios, a heated swimming pool, a cinema, a coffee bar, spa, and a demonstration chef’s kitchen. Even private wine lockers are available for independent living residents here.
Runner-up: Thames Edge at Fairview, Groton, Connecticut (Eastern CT area).
Stand Alone Memory Care Winner
Dogwood Memory Care Neighborhood | Bloomfield, Connecticut (Central CT metro)
The Dogwood Memory Care Neighborhood, an addition to the Duncaster Retirement Community, is built in a unique V design that gives all 12 apartments floor-to-ceiling corner windows. Community dining and activity space is contained inside the V, with residences on the outside. The design maximizes natural light and outdoor views, its architect says, while offering interconnected interior spaces to encourage social interaction and independence.
Runner-up: Villagio Senior Living, Broomfield, Colorado.
Senior Housing Trend: Natural Light and Outdoors
Argentum, a senior living trade association, also recognized five senior living communities in its 2016 Senior Living by Design Awards. These communities represent simple designs with natural light and clear views of the outdoors. Senior living residences have been looking for ways to bring the outdoors inside, Argentum notes, so residents can get closer to nature. The winners were:
Cedarbrook of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. This continuing care retirement community includes a 1950s-style diner with an ice cream parlor and children’s play area.
Hillcrest Country Estates, Papillion, Nebraska: This senior community added a “Rehab Cottage” to bridge its long-term care cottages and lodge apartments.
Dogwood Memory Care Neighborhood, Bloomfield, Connecticut: Architects used a 100-year-old oak tree as the central theme of this addition.
Rose Villa, Portland, Oregon: This community is designed like a small town with amenities that look and feel like individual businesses.
Autumn Leaves of Westover Hills, San Antonio, Texas: Focused on memory care, this community features a figure-eight design with enclosed courtyards to allow residents to stroll freely.
NAHB Best of 55+ Housing Awards
The National Association of Home Builders also recognizes 55+ housing annually. Its 2017 55+ Community of the Year is Renaissance Luxury Living at Sun Lakes, Arizona, which offers independent living, assisted living and memory care. Bathrooms in residences there have motion-sensor lighting, walk-in tubs and roll-in showers. Its movie theater is designed with walkers and wheelchairs in mind. View all the NAHB 55+ winners here.