The “smart-aging” residential designs
of five Texas A&M architecture students earned them runner-up
and honorable mention honors in a 2003 national design competition,
“Aging in Place,” sponsored by the National Center
for Seniors Housing Research.
Robert Wilson and Zeel Ambekar tied for the competition’s
runner-up award with designs that focused on sites in Philadelphia.
They were sponsored by Bob Warden, an associate professor of architecture
at Texas A&M.
Wilson's Fishtowne community design was a high-density redevelopment
of a vacant industrial site along the Delaware River. Mixed-use
residential as well as multi-income housing were the mainstays
of the community in what jurors called an excellent example of
the new urbanism concept. "A successful community lasts even
after the place has aged,” wrote one reviewer of Wilson’s
Ambekar approached the design challenge by proposing shared housing
between students and older adults. The setting was a dense urban
area on the Schuykill River close to both the University of Pennsylvania
and Drexel University. Both students and older adults would benefit
from Ambekar’s arrangement because students would live in
a home environment, while the older adults enjoyed security and
daily interaction. The design incorporated renovation of existing
buildings as well as new construction.
Also in the winner’s circle, tied for honorable mention
honors, were Gaurang Sheth and the team of Dhiren Babaria and
Ankur Deshpande. Their faculty advisor was Mardelle Shepley, a
professor of architecture who for three consecutive years has
advised students who have placed among the annual competition’s
top three entries.
Gaurang Sheth's Lake Travis community design was a suburban cul-de-sac
cluster development within walking distance of amenities. It recognized
that aging in place concepts can be achieved in a typical suburban
In contrast, the team of Barbaria and Deshpande chose a site
in Suffolk County, New York on which to create the Mill Pond Senior
Housing Community. A very wealthy residential resort area, their
design was a multi-unit oceanfront structure featuring natural
light, accessibility, and controlled vistas.
The first place winner was Travis Bunt, an architecture student
at the University of Arizona who submitted a low-scale and adaptable
design that fit the historical context of the target neighborhood.
Bunt’s units were also easily adaptable to meet residents'
changing housing needs.
The competition encouraged students to address urban issues,
such as infill housing and smart growth, as well as aging in place.
Participants were asked to design a community on a 10-acre urban
site with transportation and other amenities in close proximity.
Over half of the competition entries came from students of architecture
programs. Other disciplines included architectural technology,
construction management/construction science, interior design,
and occupational therapy.
“We are impressed not only by the number of competition
entries, but also with their high quality,” said Mike Luzier,
president of the research center located in Upper Marlboro, Md.
“The home building industry will certainly benefit from
entrants' enhanced understanding of older adult housing issues,
such as the desire to age in place."
An esteemed panel of jurors reviewed all submissions based on
creativity, buildability, and livability. Jury members included:
Margaret Caulkins, Innovative Designs in Environments for an Aging
Society; Peter Katz, author of “The New Urbanism: Toward
an Architecture of Community”; Wolfgang Preiser, University
of Cincinnati; Barry Rosengarten, the Rosengarten Companies; Katherine
Salant, architect and syndicated newspaper columnist of "Your
New Home"; and Gerald Weisman, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
The National Center for Seniors' Housing Research was established
in the spring of 2000 by the National Association of Home Builders
Research Center in cooperation with the Administration on Aging
of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The goal
of the Center is to enable all Americans to continue to live comfortably,
safely and independently in their own homes as they age regardless
of income or ability level.
To learn more about NCSHR projects visit their Web site at http://www.nahbrc.org.