Category Archives: Architecture

Creating Communities with Pocket Neighborhoods for Seniors

Pocket neighborhoods – the future of senior living

As the number of retirees continues to increase, so does the demand for housing that matches the wants and needs of seniors ages 55 or more. And what do seniors want and need? They are looking for social interactions with people their own age, they want some choice in housing options and they want to remain active. One option that is becoming popular around the United States is pocket neighborhoods. With a small footprint and easy access to senior services, pocket neighborhoods often check all the boxes for senior housing.

What is a pocket neighborhood?

Pocket neighborhoods are planned communities featuring multiple single-family homes or duplexes centralized around services and community spaces. Each home is designed with style, affordability and ease of maintenance in mind. Homes are built in close proximity to shared resources, such as a community center, activities facility or green space.

Ranging from just 1,000 to 1,500 square feet, these single-family homes are much smaller than the average 2,500 square foot home. While intentionally small, pocket neighborhood homes are big in convenience. Because they are designed and positioned to build a sense of community, seniors who choose them as an independent living option have ample opportunity to visit neighbors and take advantage of shared services, conveniences and activities they may not otherwise have access to, all while enjoying privacy and independence.

Benefits of pocket neighborhoods

There are the initial benefits of pocket neighborhoods, such as access to services and common spaces, and then there are the deeper, more meaningful benefits. By building an intentional neighborhood for seniors who are invested in the idea of building a thriving community, you can create a sense of belonging and ownership for those who reside there. Truly, the benefits of pocket neighborhoods for seniors are three-fold:

  • Physical. By placing homes in close proximity to services and activities, the ability for seniors to participate in activities increases and enhances their independence.
  • Emotional. By developing a sense of community, pocket neighborhoods bring people together who would otherwise be isolated.
  • Mental. Being part of engaging conversations and participating in activities help seniors stay alert and maintain cognitive function.

Many retirees may not have family living close by. Pocket communities curb the sense of isolation and disconnectedness seniors may feel and replace it with feelings of closeness and community.

Pocket neighborhood design – an emerging market

While still a relatively new concept, pocket neighborhoods are popping up across the country. Indiana, Washington, California and Massachusetts have developed communities in rural, urban and/or suburban settings. And, while a sense of community is important, so is a sense of style and function. And today’s retirees are looking for more—more  style, more accommodations and more attention to independent living design. With attention to style, placement and planning, pocket neighborhoods can be designed as a single community or as individual pockets within larger community, as long as all seniors have access to the same services, activities and sense of community.

By creating an inner space with no public roads that traverse the neighborhood, communities feature sidewalk-lined homes that lead to front porches for visits and encourage walking to community activities or services. To enhance privacy, bathrooms and bedrooms are generally placed at the back of the home.

Which seniors are best suited for pocket neighborhoods?

While pocket neighborhoods are beneficial to all ages, their connectedness and availability of services make them exceptionally suited for retirees who enjoy:

  • Easy access to living services
  • Independence and privacy
  • A sense of community

However, pocket neighborhoods are not the best-fit solution for seniors in need of memory care or assisted living services. 

Learn more about pocket neighborhood solutions for seniors

At Community Living Solutions, we specialize in creating senior living communities that meet the evolving needs of seniors. By partnering with senior living providers and developers, our caring team is devoted to providing our clients with the expertise needed to serve aging communities.

To learn more about our solutions or how you can make pocket neighborhoods part of your aging community, complete our contact form or call 920-969-9344.

How Senior Housing Design is Taking on the Rental Market

Apartment living is the future for more seniors

It used to be that the American dream was to own a home where you raised a family and later became an empty-nester, welcoming grandkids for holidays and backyard gatherings. Downsizing to a smaller home or condo may have been a rite of passage for some, but certainly most would never have considered renting during retirement.

But today, what we think of as a traditional retirement is changing rapidly, and along with it, senior housing design. According to a study by RENTCafe®, people aged 55 and over—or empty-nester baby boomers—are the fastest growing renter population in the United States. This new crop of renters is highly educated and seeking an urban or suburban lifestyle, one we often associate with the millennial generation.

The search for an active lifestyle

While some may laugh at the saying “40 is the new 30,” it’s true that many people no longer feel or act like generations before them. It’s especially true for seniors, who want more out of retirement—and life. Their lives have been shaped by formative decades, from the 1960s to the 1980s, a time of radicalism and creativity.

What’s more, while we in the industry classify senior housing construction projects as 55-plus, the fact is that the average move-in age at a senior rental property is 82. People in their mid- to late-50s are still employed, some with children at home. And, 60% of Americans over 60 say they’ll hunt for a new job after retiring from their profession. Moving into what we think of as traditional senior housing is far from their minds.

And healthy, active seniors in their 70s and 80s are seeking housing based on wants, not needs. What do they want?

  • Walking distance to shopping, entertainment and restaurants
  • The opportunity to socialize where they live
  • A less institutional atmosphere—the ability to feel “at home” even if they don’t own their home
  • Physical and emotional safety of living in close proximity to others of similar age

Quite often, apartment living fills all of these wants. And while the great majority don’t want to live among young children, many do welcome a senior housing option that includes spaces for singles or couples without children from younger generations.

What they look for in senior housing design

If senior housing design tastes were ice cream, today’s seniors would not choose vanilla. Their tastes are much more sophisticated to include:

  • Custom furnishings
  • Large, open floor plans
  • Interior amenities like walk-in closets and full kitchens
  • Communal areas inside and outside the building
  • Swimming pools
  • Fitness facilities
  • On-site public spaces, like cafes or entertainment

The challenge when designing a senior housing apartment facility is not only to attract residents in a competitive environment but also in its flexibility to serve the aging population as their health declines. If done right, a senior housing construction project will keep residents content and comfortable as long as their health allows.

Seeking a senior housing design expert?

We at Community Living Solutions have expertise in what seniors are looking for in independent, active living. Ask us about our senior housing design process that includes master planning and construction management. For a no-obligation consultation, complete our contact form or call 920-969-9344.

Senior Living Construction Opens in Keystone, Iowa

Facility celebrates with ribbon cutting

Community Living Solutions and Keystone Nursing Care Center in Keystone, Iowa, celebrated completion of phase one on a 12,350-square-foot senior living construction project, hosting a ribbon cutting in late February.

The first stage of CLS’ design-build project included a one-story addition with 10 short-term rehabilitation beds, four long-term skilled care private rooms and an inpatient/outpatient therapy center. As we try to do with most projects, CLS teamed with many local and regional contractors to complete the project.

The addition’s interior design has features unique to Keystone—it incorporates photos taken by staff of the local community and environment to help residents and rehab patients feel at home.

“The goal of this project was to provide a more private and comfortable space for short-term rehabilitation patients,” said Aaron Klug, CLS architectural production manager. “The therapy center is now three times its previous size, and patients will enjoy using a separate, private entrance for outpatient therapy.”

CLS will complete the senior living construction project’s second phase this spring. It includes a 400-square-foot commercial kitchen as well as other building and courtyard renovations.

Keystone Nursing Care Center, a 45-bed senior living facility, opened in 1973. It also serves residents in its assisted living complex and independent living apartments.

Senior living design is all we do

If you’re interested in expanding your senior living facility, give us a call at 515-478-3544. Our team of senior living construction experts can help you navigate Iowa’s building requirements, including facilitating a Certificate of Need.

Clark County Senior Living Construction Project

Clark County Rehabilitation & Living Center opens

Community Living Solutions and the Clark County Rehabilitation & Living Center in Owen, Wis., celebrated the opening of the senior living facility’s short-term rehabilitation suites on Feb. 15. CLS broke ground on the 23,570-square-foot, single-story addition in May 2018.

The new addition connects to the existing 1920s-era building. CLS’s senior living design included creating a new main entryway featuring a drive-under canopy to make patient drop-off and pick-up easier, especially during inclement weather.

The new addition also includes:

  • A physical therapy gym
  • 16 private short-term rehabilitation rooms with private baths
  • 16 private long-term care rooms with private baths

“Our goal in designing the Clark County Rehabilitation & Living Center was to remind residents of home so that they can lead more active, healthy lives,” said Aaron Klug, CLS architectural production manager. “The senior living design features household living rooms, private dining options, a country kitchen and more. We anticipate the facility will be in demand as area residents consider their options for short- and long-term care.”

The Clark County Rehabilitation & Living Center has served the county since 1922. In addition to short-term rehabilitation, assisted living and long-term care, it specializes in memory care, geriatric psychiatric care and care for the intellectually disabled.

Senior living construction is our specialty

If you are looking to expand your senior living facility, give us a call. We have expertise in incorporating new designs into existing spaces. Contact us at 920-969-9344 to schedule a complimentary consultation. We’d love to talk!

Remodeling and Adaptive Reuse Projects

Adaptive Reuse Project | Grancare Gardens

Finding more affordable ways to improve marketability

As architects specializing in senior living design and construction, we hear it often—care facility owners and executives like you are challenged with appealing to more discerning clients (and their children) while keeping costs in check. So, what happens when your senior living community is years out of date or when market demand calls for more capacity? That’s when more affordable alternatives to new construction may come into play, including remodeling your facility or embarking on an adaptive reuse project.

If you’re thinking about how you can meet customer demand when you don’t have the ability or aren’t interested in building new, it’s worthwhile to consider these alternatives.

Master planning: The first step

Differentiation is always the name of game in senior care. While the care you provide is the most important, your facility’s look and atmosphere is a major driver in whether a prospective resident chooses you over your competitor. Today’s seniors and their children are looking for their next living space to feel like home, a space where they are comfortable and can stay as active as possible.

Considering facility changes? Stay competitive with architectural design by starting your planning phase sooner rather than later. This is especially true if a new long-term care facility is planned in your market—the goal would be to have your project done about the same time so that new competition doesn’t get a step ahead of you.

If you’re in a competitive market and considering adaptive use or remodeling, a comprehensive master plan will benefit you in a variety of ways:

  • It’ll help ensure your remodeling or adaptive use project meets market needs.
  • It’ll provide you with a detailed financial analysis to determine whether the project is cost-effective.
  • Finally, it’ll provide you with a general concept of what your design will look like and the programs and services you could offer.

If you’re planning a facility remodel, this initial document should also include a plan for construction with minimal resident or caregiver disruptions. At CLS, we even create plans that involve and engage your residents in viewing construction progress, when possible, so that they feel included in their home’s evolution.

Considering adaptive reuse

If a master plan reveals your local market could use more senior living facilities, you may want to consider an adaptive reuse project, rather than building from scratch. Empty medical facilities, hotels, schools and other commercial buildings may lend themselves to such projects. Adaptive reuse is a commercial construction trend that many senior living facilities are adopting around the United States due to the scarcity and high land costs. In some cases, it’s also helping senior living communities locate in coveted spaces close to downtowns or cultural centers, where today’s seniors want to be.

But not every available space lends itself to a more affordable option. That’s when careful planning and a complete understanding of what it would take to convert the property becomes a significant piece of the planning process. While these are considerations for any senior living facility, it’s important to keep them in mind through an adaptive use redesign:

  • Mobility: How will seniors enter and exit easily? Do the materials used in the original construction provide high contrast to improve visibility? Is lighting sufficient? If the space is especially large or has several stories, consider upkeep on elevators and providing rest spaces to break up longer walkways.
  • Socialization: Seniors’ physical and mental health relies on socialization with others. Ensure they have access to common spaces, even if it’s in a lobby area as well as outdoors.
  • Public spaces: Based upon the location and size of an adaptive reuse project, it may lend itself to public use. Perhaps a portion could be rented out for a local shop or café. Or, your public-facing space could be designed to invite the community to share a cup of coffee or fitness class.

An adaptive reuse project success

When Grancare Gardens in Green Bay, Wis., approached us to develop a new assisted living center, we saw an opportunity literally next door. Grancare’s long-term nursing facility shared the block with an abandoned medical clinic and its parking lot. Although Grancare had been looking for a green space to build, we approached them about reusing the former clinic because it offered two benefits: it would allow Grancare to provide a continuum of care on one campus, and it offered cost savings.

We  transformed the dark clinic environment into an inviting 16-unit space with large windows and a gazebo that draw in natural light, comfortable interior design elements, an open-concept common area and a beautiful outdoor garden.

Architects specializing in senior living

If you are considering remodeling your senior living community or see an opportunity for an adaptive reuse project, give us a call at (920) 969-9344 or visit our Contact page. We can help you develop the most cost-effective plan to meet your market needs.