Alan Williamson, AIA, and Emily Tuttle, AIA, recently presented to some 60 architects at the Aspire “Designing the Future” conference hosted by the AIA South Atlantic in Asheville, N.C. The two architects specialize in resort, hospitality and senior living development and spoke about directions in the growing and topical category of active adult communities.
With the firm’s reputation and expertise in high-end residential design, creating luxurious housing for seniors is a natural offshoot. The developments encompass independent living, assisted living and memory care facilities and are designed as communities that offer a country club-level array of high-end amenities for socializing and wellness, including spas, full range of gourmet eateries, arts and gaming centers, and beautiful landscaping with courtyards, patios and grilling areas for indoor-outdoor dining and relaxation.
At the event, Emily and Alan discussed opportunities and challenges in designing for senior living. Tailored to foster aging in place amid a luxurious lifestyle, these destinations are redefining perceptions of retirement living. Architecture ranges from multi-story buildings containing individual apartments to sizable residences, sometimes designed as cottages or duplexes, featuring garages and yards. Along with architecture, interior design and landscape architecture, the developments require expertise in site planning and zoning. In addition, careful consideration is given to the local vernacular and location in terms of the scale of the immediate and future built environment.
Happily, as they emphasized, senior living design can be just as thoughtfully considered and well-appointed as designing for a private residence. In fact, with saline and hydrotherapy pools, theaters, pet spas and deluxe gyms—all within easy reach and no maintenance or upkeep—these properties are more like luxury resorts.