Blog: Tagged 'Senior Center'
BRS designed the Active Senior Adult Center addition to be the place to go for health and social interaction.Continue
Tuesday, June 27, 2017, the City of Watauga celebrated the grand opening of the much-anticipated Active Senior Adult Center extension to the Watauga Community Center.
Mayor Hector F. Garcia welcomed City Council Members and Watauga residents with a speech expressing his pride in the City of Watauga for coming together on a project to help so many senior citizens. City Manager Greg Vick was all smiles as he thanked Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture and Haydon Building Corporation for designing and building a magnificent addition for the City.
Over the past three years, the City Council had decided more could be done to help their senior population. The existing 1,800 square foot Senior Center was over 70 years old and unable to accommodate the range of programs required for today’s active adults.
BRS was hired to develop plans for a 5,000 square foot addition to the existing Watauga Community Center that would give the Senior population direct access to the facility and create a new space with modern amenities and programs dedicated to Seniors. The overarching goal of the project was to make the lives of the Seniors better and healthier, and the multi-use addition is designed with the active senior in mind.
BRS designed an extension of the Community Center with a separate entry at the junction of the addition for ease of access to both centers. To make the experience more enjoyable, a new reception desk was added so visitors would be greeted on arrival and have easy access to information about both centers and the available programs and amenities.
The new addition includes a kitchen, dedicated restrooms designed for Seniors, and a large flexible space to support a variety of programs and events. The multi-purpose great room can be divided into two large classrooms or assembled for large social gatherings, dining, card playing, or dancing.
Seniors can also get together for healthy activities with full access to the gymnasium, adult fitness equipment and classrooms of the existing Community Center. This access and the dedicated space for active senior adult activities make this addition the place to go for health and social interaction.
Now it’s time to work off the cake that we enjoyed celebrating with!
About Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture
Through a fun, passionate and people-inspired process, Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture designs lively, purposeful buildings and places that draw people together. Earning more than 75 design awards, BRS has completed projects for more than 200 communities in 40 states across the U.S. With offices in Denver and Dallas, the firm is dedicated to designing places that build community, including recreation facilities, wellness and active-aging centers, field houses, aquatic centers, park structures, ball fields, clubhouses, water parks, resorts, libraries, city halls, cultural centers, and related facilities and master plans.
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Posted by Mick Massey, RLA on June 27, 2017 at 09:02pm
Craig Bouck talks about challenges and opportunities in the design of Lewisville’s multi-generational and aquatic center.
Posted by Heather M. Goodwin on September 6, 2016 at 12:18pm
Energy. Excitement. Movement. Laughter. Learning. Children. These are not the terms that come to mind when one envisions a traditional senior recreation center.Continue
If you ask Baby Boomers to describe their ideal recreation facility, those are exactly the qualities they are seeking. They are no longer content to sit still in a room and play cards; they want to move, learn, socialize, and interact with the community. They want to stay active. Once you get the clients in the door, the programs offered need to satisfy a holistic mind, body, and soul approach to wellness.
Access to equipment that maintains fitness and mobility has become an essential need for recreational facilities trying to attract Boomers. Operators should provide equipment that focuses on maintaining strength, balance, and reducing the risks of injury. In addition to the open fitness room, consider providing a smaller personal fitness room that can accommodate 2-3 people.
The passion for competitive sports still exists in Boomers. At their stage in life, full size courts are no longer desirable. Offer smaller, half-sized courts that are more forgiving on knee and hip joints and keep the gymnasium space as flexible as possible to accommodate a variety of activities. Have basketball hoops, soccer goals, and volleyball systems, and golf/batting practice nets that lower from the ceiling for flexibility and easy setup.
Warm water swimming facilities are also in high demand due to the ability to minimize impact on joints while exercising. Water Aerobics, Aqua Zumba, and the Arthritis Foundation fitness classes have become extremely popular. Provide additional fitness challenges by adding water currents for users to challenge themselves by walking with and against the current.
Albert Einstein inspired us to never give up the quest for knowledge when he said “once you stop learning, you start dying”. The active adult center needs to provide spaces that meet the needs of teaching classes, mentoring, meetings, and collaboration. Special considerations for rooms that host this type of activity are induction hearing systems, Blue Tooth enabled televisions/media systems, and sound absorbing acoustical treatments to prevent echo/reverberation.
Classrooms & Technology
Offer classes that range in topics from health, technology nutrition, social security, finances, and insurance. Consider hosting lectures from the nation’s top academics and professionals, such as Harvard, MIT, and Stanford, through online resources that provide free lectures. Technology education needs can also generate an opportunity to interact with younger generations. Try a “Teach me and I’ll teach you” mentoring program. Have a member of a younger generation teach the Boomer how to use technology and in return the youth member can receive career mentoring.
Virtual Senior Centers
Don’t limit your class size to participants inside the room, consider hosting classes and discussions online. You will be able to reach those unable to attend due to lack of transportation, child care, or mobility. Virtual senior centers allow for homebound seniors to interact and engage with peers.
Check out this life-changing pilot program for seniors in New York City: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dfta/html/newsletters/newsletter_june10.htm#article6
Strengthening the soul through social interaction is important. Multifunctional social spaces are necessary to promote formal and informal social interaction. Supply rooms with tables that can function for impromptu card games, meeting, or meals. Weekly lunches continue to be popular with the aging population.
Don’t forget about the potential for outdoor programs. Shared gardens with horticultural classes can offer unique experiences for active adult centers. Host classes on a variety of topics from composting, to harvesting, to organic fertilizers. If the facility serves weekly meals, prepare them with food from the garden. Not only will this help offset the cost of food for the meals, it will conjure feelings of pride and accomplishment to the ones who tended the garden.
Recent polls have revealed that one in ten children live with a grandparent and four in ten are primarily raised by a grandparent. (Source Pew research center) http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/09/09/since-the-start-of-the-great-recession-more-children-raised-by-grandparents/. Boomers need assistance with childcare to be able to use facilities. Offering a childcare area for participants to use while members participate in programs is a key attraction. Major retailers like IKEA and Giant Eagle (grocer) have addressed child care needs by providing child care service while customers are shopping.
Figuring out how to provide a range of services that satisfy the needs of the boomer can be a bit daunting. There are several issues operators must address to offer successful active adult programs. One of the largest considerations is the facility itself. Take a look at the community’s needs and determine if there is benefit in integrating the two standalone centers into one.
At the end of the day we need to applaud the baby boomers' efforts for paving the way for generations to follow. They have tirelessly asked community leaders to evolve senior centers. I encourage facility operators, recreation programmers, and designers, to look to boomers for ideas in how to teach and inspire younger generations to be active, strong and defy ideas of conventional aging.Hide Full Post
Posted on October 1, 2015 at 12:54pm
To appeal to the next generation of Boomers, “senior centers” must adapt and access innovative design concepts to transform into active-aging centers.Continue
The following is the third and final installation of an article Craig Bouck recently authored for The Journal on Active Aging.
Envision the Future Active-Aging Center
Now that the issues have been identified, the next step in envisioning a new generation of active-aging adult centers is to imagine facilities with spaces designed to be relevant and vital to aging adults.
Continuing education has always been an important focus of adult centers. Course offerings, however, have generally been limited to the expertise available locally within each community. If an adult center happens to be in a large metropolitan area or in a college town, direct access to excellent instructors may not be an issue. But the next best thing is a distance-learning classroom. These are simply classrooms or multipurpose rooms outfitted with special audio, video and computer equipment that enables interactive participation with an offsite instructor. Offerings can include training sessions, lectures, workshops, art classes, or any kind of educational gathering. In addition to connecting with an individual speaker, these kinds of computer set-ups bring center users the potential to interact with groups of people from around the world.
Staying active for many older adults may include working, volunteering, mentoring or consulting. If they are doing this independently, they often need space for collaboration with others. The active-aging adult center can become a place which fosters this collaboration by providing special rooms outfitted with tables, chairs, marker boards and a large, flat-panel monitor. Multiple outlets and inputs for laptops or tablets allow participants to research, create and share digital data.
In the spirit of sharing, active-aging centers can become a host for Living Libraries. Older adults have a lifetime of accumulated knowledge and experiences which largely go untapped, especially after they retire. Started in Denmark in 2000, the Living Library concept is an opportunity to connect people who want information on a particular topic with human resources in their community. Participants publish interests, beliefs or experiences they are willing to share and offer to be “checked out” by community members for 30-minute conversations. A center that offers this type of program could bring multiple generations together and periodically transform an underutilized lounge, library or reading room into a vibrant social area.
Internet Access and Tech Support
In 2012 the Pew Research Center reported that, for the first time, half of American adults age 65 and older are going online. Additionally, one-third of users age 65 and older use social networking, and 69% of seniors have mobile phones. Can an active-aging adult center ever replace the local Starbucks as the go-to cyber café with free Wi-Fi? Maybe not, but it seems safe to say that this trend will continue and suggests that our next generation of older adults will be more connected than ever before, expecting to have the same free access to the Internet at their center that they experience daily in the retail world.
Adult centers can borrow other ideas from the retail world, as well. In another 2012 report, the Pew Research Center noted that among adults age 50 and over, 37% use e-readers, 28% have tablets and 47% own smartphones. This presents an opportunity to help support older adults who have growing interest in mobile, content-rich devices. Perhaps the next generation of centers will include a mobile device bar, not unlike the service counter at an Apple™ retail outlet. The difference is that this support bar would be staffed by older adults. Empathetic peer volunteers can offer advice on devices, how-to lessons, and recommendations on applications and content. If it is located strategically, the bar can double as a serving or gathering area for social events when not in use as a mobile device help center.
Digital Equipment and Experiences
Every day it seems there are new gadgets and software applications that make recording, editing and publishing digital creations easier and more intuitive. That being said, many of the self-directed and produced movies and songs are crude and low-quality. This is often due in equal parts to inferior recording equipment, overly simplistic software and lack of training. One solution to attract users interested in improving their digital skills is for adult centers to create a digital multimedia lab. Outfitted with good-quality video cameras, sound recording equipment, software and computers, such a space will become the digital version of the traditional arts and crafts room.
Another technology-driven innovation is the virtual active-aging center. Originally a demonstration project between Microsoft and Selfhelp Community Services, Inc., easy-to-use video conferencing equipment is installed in residences of homebound adults and in local adult centers. The mobile units are then positioned in various classrooms throughout the day, enabling the adults to participate interactively with fitness and educational classes, all from home.
Pools and Gyms
Specialized fitness areas continue to evolve to meet the needs of active-aging clientele. One of the most significant changes has been in the evolution of warm water exercise pools. Originally conceived as a place for physical therapy, warm water pools have grown in size and features to offer much more variety to older adults who are interested in incorporating water into their personal exercise programs, which is attractive because the buoyant quality of water reduces wear and tear on joints. Common now are water current channels that offer exercise opportunities to walk both with and against a variable current and group exercise areas for water aerobics and movement classes. Emerging in these pools are areas for water exercise equipment, including treadmills and bicycles, and water workout stations equipped with resistive exercise bands. Individual benches built into the pool walls allow personalized control of hydrotherapy jets.
Gymnasiums and fitness rooms are also evolving and adapting to the shifting needs of older adults. No longer are full-length basketball courts necessary or even desirable. While many older adults are still passionate about competitive sports, smaller courts are more forgiving to aging knees and shoulder joints. Well-designed multipurpose gymnasiums accommodate a wide variety of activities, including basketball, volleyball, pickleball and indoor soccer. Nets lowered from the ceiling accommodate golf and batting practice. Combining all these activities into a single space can lead to a confusing array of court lines. Fortunately, innovative flooring manufacturers are experimenting with new court flooring products that include embedded LED lights to allow court lines to be switched off and on depending on the sport being played. This helps decrease confusion while still accommodating a full list of activities.
Innovative Design Concepts for the Next Generations
Active-aging centers must be designed to attract the Baby Boomer generation and help keep them in the community. Beyond adapting to accommodate physical changes, it will be necessary to consider technological advances that will influence the amenity spaces in your centers. From aquatic recreation to virtual learning classrooms, this generation of aging adults will rely more than ever before on innovative resources as a necessity in their lives.
In order to plan for these solutions, adult center operators must consider funding and demographic issues to stay ahead of the curve when planning new facilities or upgrades to existing ones. With proper planning and coordination with the right design team, it is possible to attract this influential group of people to your community and keep them actively engaged.
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Posted by Craig Bouck, AIA, LEED AP on November 6, 2013 at 05:59pm
To appeal to the next generation of Boomers, “senior centers” must adapt and access innovative design concepts to transform into active-aging centers.Continue
The following is the second installation of an article Craig Bouck recently authored for The Journal on Active Aging. We will release the full contents of the article over the next several months in a series of blog posts.
Where is the second place? The home is the “first place,” and for many people who are retired, “second places” are informal meeting places for social interaction that become anchors of their community life. Second places can be barber shops, hair salons, bars, restaurants, libraries, parks and—hopefully—adult centers. For the next-generation active-aging center to become truly relevant, it should strive to become a second place—a place for engaging social activity.
How can centers achieve this goal? Start with the overall look and feel of the facility, which should create a warm, welcoming and comfortable atmosphere—a place you want to be. A visitor’s first impression should include a friendly face, and the center must offer a variety of spaces both indoors and out that invite informal gathering and interaction. These inviting spaces could be living rooms, sunrooms, libraries, porches, patios and garden spaces. A center might consider adding small social areas outside of fitness rooms—classrooms and locker rooms where people can meet before and after activities.
Funding sources shift: Traditionally, senior centers have been supported primarily by tax dollars. At the same time, many older adults, especially those on fixed incomes, traditionally resist tax increases. Demographics suggest that as we move into an unprecedented era with the largest population of aging adults in history seeking services, we will also have fewer Boomers in the workforce to provide the necessary tax income. The result is likely to be less emphasis on income tax revenue and a greater emphasis on property and sales taxes to support active-aging centers.
The net effect of funding pressures and extraordinary demand may be a fundamental shift to a pay-for-service model in lieu of free (or heavily discounted) services to cover operational expenses. In this model, the cost of an activity will increase with an increase in personal benefit. In other words, a space or activity that has equal benefit to all, like a lounge area, is a community benefit, and the cost would be shared by the entire community as a subsidy. An activity with a personal benefit, like a yoga class, is an individualized benefit, and the cost would be borne solely by the participants.
New priorities – times and activities: It used to be that centers could schedule activities geared toward older adults during the center’s “off” or “slow” hours. Times have changed, and many older adults today are busy working or volunteering during the day and need facilities to be open longer hours in the evenings and weekends. In addition, shifts in preferences mean Boomers are no longer filling existing passive recreation spaces, so these need to be converted to active recreation areas to meet the growing demand for those types of activities. Older adults have many options for their time, and they are much less dependent on the senior center for offers of trips, performances and group activities.
Ages spread across generations: While often lumped into a single category called “seniors,” the active aging service provider will have a customer base ranging in age from 50 to more than 90 years old. Satisfying a group with an age spread this wide requires a greater segregation of activities, which means more offerings are needed. Limited resources, however often mean these additional activities must be offered without additional funding, staff or space. Unfortunately, this reality means people at both ends of the age spectrum tend to get squeezed out and have fewer appropriate activities. Serving the most may necessitate not serving everyone.
Stand-alone vs. integrated facilities: Should active aging adult centers be built as stand-alone facilities or be integrated into multi-generational recreation centers? An intergenerational center provides spaces for both youth and older adults, with a priority system for utilizing the space. No one approach will work for all communities, but financial pressures are driving communities toward a potentially more cost effective integrated approach. Significant savings can be achieved when centers share expenses for land, site development, and utility services. Additionally, ongoing operational costs can be reduced by sharing utilities, staffing, security, maintenance and advertising. Sharing space, however, can also have disadvantages. If youth programs generate more revenue, then older adult programs may lose out and have less access to spaces and equipment.
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Posted by Craig Bouck, AIA, LEED AP on October 16, 2013 at 04:10pm
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