Author and Design Editor/New York magazine
Assisted living communities are no picnic! They are designed with a "last stop" mentality, instead of creative, elegant communities in which to thrive and look forward to new experiences. As the population gets older, and now, rapidly poorer, we need new models urgently.
We are seeing how exciting new design solutions can be with the work that Bjarke Ingels is doing here in New York with the new pyramid apartment complex on 57th St and Steven Holl's Linked Hybrid in Bejing, for instance, but we need this kind of initiative to take hold in affordable housing and, let's also add, new senior housing.
What are the steps we can take to initiate change in the design of new affordable and senior housing?
Classical music and architecture critic at New York magazine
Justin gave the final word
Hi, Wendy! Great topic. We’ve seen some good ideas right here in NY recently, and some of them are quite technical:
-change the zoning code to allow for smaller and more flexible living spaces, especially for communal living (i.e. don’t require every apartment to have a kitchen)
-expand techniques of modular construction to apartment buildings, which can potentially lower costs without diminishing quality of construction or design. (SHoP is doing this at Atlantic Yards).
-cultivate and encourage the altruistic instincts of many architects with challenges like Via Verde in the Bronx (Grmishaw/Dattner) or Schermerhorn House in Brooklyn (Polshek…I mean Ennead) or Nehemiah Houses in East New York by Alex Gorlin.
-make it easier for developers and non-profit organizations to navigate the complexities of subsidies and tax incentives, rather than asking them to be time-consumingly creative about financing.
-move towards inclusive housing in which all new residential buildings are required to include some affordable units, rather than just offering tax incentives.
-focus on urban living facilities for seniors, where they can be far more independent in walkable neighborhoods than in car-dependent suburbs.
These suggestions improve conditions but don’t address actual design. I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel here, actually. Many architects are quite expert at building good, creatively-designed residential buildings and containing costs at the same time. The obstacles, I think, lie mostly in the financing, but I’ll give some more thought to the design side, too.
Sunday, December 4 at 9:53pm
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