The U.S. Census Bureau states that by the year 2050 one out of five adults in the United States will be over the age of sixty-five. The purpose of my research is to identify exemplary facilities for an aging population, to answer the following research question: What is the role of design in creating facilities for the aging Baby Boomer population?

Current research into the needs and desires of the aging Baby Boomer population indicates the dissatisfaction this group has with the traditional nursing homes their parents and grandparents lived and died in.  Furthermore, my precedent research suggests the benefits of full service accommodations for aging populations, including amenities within the apartment building, and neighboring community.

The literature on design for aging focuses on universal design to make buildings more accessible and integrating nature for its ability to lift our spirits.  Several patterns emerge from this research. The importance of designing with aging in mind is the persistent theme to create an apartment building that has desired accessible public spaces that will include a salon, gym, office spaces, social gathering lounge areas, outdoor views, etc.

The apartments will be fully prepared for aging in place. ADA and ASID research suggests taking into consideration materials, clearance, acoustics, lighting and ergonomics to act as a safe and comfortable environment that is barrier free and prepared for independent aging.

My proposed site is the home of beloved baby boomer storybook character Eloise, who is located on the 20th floor of The Plaza Hotel in New York, New York. The Plaza is an upscale urban multipurpose building with condos, some hotel areas, shops and restaurants, some with landmark status. The mixed use building will attract different ages. Unlike typical senior housing, this environment is not solely for elderly people, creating a more youthful feel for all.  The Plaza is located with views of Central Park and walking distance to Rockefeller Center, the MOMA and other great New York attractions.

While the 20th floor of The Plaza Hotel is not assisted living, the apartments and the amenities are designed around what happens to the body as it ages and how these changes affect how we perceive the built environment. The goal is that if a space is designed with the precautions of aging, it may aid in the prevention of injury, boredom or feelings of isolation, elements that speed up the aging process and lead to loss of independence.

Thesis Abstract by:  Sarah Gottlieb, Interior Designer, DBI Architects, Inc.