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Just Damn Good Architecture

55+ Designs: How to Please a Diverse Clientele

If there’s any one word that unites the U.S. population that is age 55 or older, it’s probably diverse. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for this generation. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40 percent of them are employed, making up about one-quarter of the workplace – but they’re not all toiling away at full-time jobs. They represent a lot of ethnic and racial diversity, and pursue a multiplicity of living arrangements, from independent living to multi-generational households.

That’s why any residential design for the 55+ marketplace – be it single family dwellings, multi-unit buildings, or shared housing structures, such as those that accommodate grandparents, children and grandchildren – must be a response, not only to the community’s desires, but the community around it.

Still Working, But Living Active

Take The Overlook at FireRock development as an example: Potential residents of the golf course community more than likely would not be fully retired – yet. So the layouts and amenities that BSB Design created had to accommodate not only living, but working, too, as well as space for visitors. And because some of the residents were probably using the space as a vacation home, capturing the beauty of the surrounding landscape was important, too.

Space to Play, and to Live

There’s a compactness to the designs of The Overlook at FireRock that weren’t necessarily an overriding concern with another development, Monterey at Verde River. There, the spaces exhibit more luxury of square footage and finishes – and the homes are detached single family houses as well. Those homeowners may be working as well, but they likely have the resources and the time for leisurely pursuits – thus dedicated spaces that individual spouses might snag in order to focus on creative endeavors or alone time were incorporated.

When Community Counts

One concern for those who are aging – and their family, friends and caregivers – is community. Loneliness has become so pervasive, particularly with the older population, that it has begun to impact the quality of life. That’s why more traditionally designed multifamily units, such as the Briarwood Duplexes in Colorado, focus less on spaciousness and luxury and more on shared spaces. Because the homes have a more compact footprint, there is more space in the development for an array of gathering spots such as clubhouse, swimming pools and programming in buildings, too. And sacrificing square footage enables affordability to come into play, particularly for people who have to take a more active role in managing their finances into retirement years.

Bridging the Gaps

Of course, many people who are looking for a new home at the end of work-day years and the beginning of retirement years want a little of this and a little of that – more square footage but less upkeep, more community but distinctive privacy. In that case, the Corsica at Talis Park development by BSB Design is a good example of the kinds of communities that we may start to see more of across the country, as this 55+ age group grows, relocates and retires in ever greater numbers. From the front elevation, the homes very much feel like a traditional single family dwelling – but they are multifamily units. There is community, but there’s also enough space to firmly maintain privacy, too. It’s live well and play well – no matter what the years say.

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