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Senior Housing Design


Senior housing is finally getting the attention it deserves through a unique partnership between medicine, construction, and academia. University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Architecture is collaborating with the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health to design residences that accommodate the needs of seniors. Those who benefit from their work to date include residents of Las Ventanas Senior Living Community in Summerlin.

Led by Dak Kopec, Associate Professor, Master of Healthcare Interior Design, and Attila Lawrence, Professor, Interior Architecture + Healthcare Design, the students perform the research that reveals specific design elements that make a home accessible, comfortable, and safe for an aging population. They turn their knowledge into designs that can be incorporated into plans for senior living spaces and independent residences.

Professor Dak Kopec explains the program to attendees at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

The Lou Ruvo Center lends their expertise in behavioral science. As Dr. Dylan Wint, Director, explains that neurodegenerative disorders can be managed through the use of appropriate lighting and designing spaces such as interesting walk-through areas that lessen the feeling of isolation for those suffering from brain disorders such as dementia.

The students presented their ideas at a recent presentation at the Lou Ruvo Center. They incorporated recessed lighting, for example, that illuminates the area around a bed for safe walking while keeping the room dim enough for sleep. Another idea was a chair that tilts up when a hand is waved near it to help the person sit down in it or stand up.

A recent project the team worked on is a historical school building in Louisiana which had been damaged by a hurricane. They completely redesigned the interior and exterior to convert it into senior housing.

The collaboration has been building over the past seven years, and new partnerships are being explored. The Lou Ruvo team is reaching out to the community to advise businesses how to create dementia-friendly environments in their stores, restaurants, and office buildings. They’ve also worked with New Song Church in Henderson, Nev. to develop recommendations on how to improve faith-based environments for to manage those affected by the challenges of aging.

Multi-generational housing is making its debut in this market as well, putting a priority on the needs of a growing population.

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