POV: Point of View

Integrating Seniors into the Community

April 2013

In Building Design & Construction Magazine feature story on "8 trends shaping today’s senior housing" Trend 5 “Integrate senior into the larger community” hit home because it’s so central to what we think about when we are designing for seniors, especially senior affordable housing.


Because providing housing for low-income seniors is of increasing importance to many communities, city leaders and local housing authorities have been actively pursuing the development of affordable senior housing. Often, a city has an underutilized parcel in a downtown area slated for redevelopment and sees an active, stable senior community as a catalyst for neighborhood renewal. To take advantage of a central location near transit, retail and even civic amenities like a library or senior center, architecture that engages the street with a inviting façade and well-articulated entryways and ground-floor dining, maybe a restaurant or other retail, encourages residents to step out and use what’s just outside the door.


In last few years our new senior housing communities in Ontario and Palmdale, California — the 76-unit City Center Apartments and the 78-unit Palo Verde Terrace respectively — were part of civic master plans that placed the residences in walking distance of senior centers and near bus transit lines. In Carson, The Gateway, with 85 senior units, is part of a larger mixed-use development that includes 150 market rate condominiums and 30,000 square feet of restaurant and retail. Located across the street from City Hall at a major intersection, the building includes an IHOP restaurant that has become a favorite gathering spot for senior residents as well as city workers.


This kind of planning isn’t just good for seniors it’s good for the entire community as more people take advantage of walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods. They are safer, friendly and simply good places to live.