Point of View

Architecture should never come between people and the things they want to do

For centuries, most buildings have been designed for average people who never change. The critical flaws in this practice are obvious: not everyone is average, and over the course of a lifetime, we all change.

Something as simple as a single step, a heavy door, or dim lighting can be inconvenient—even disabling—to a person who doesn’t fit the designer’s definition of “average.” Sooner or later, everyone is affected. Average employees give up their jobs, typical consumers stop patronizing businesses, and ordinary people move out of their homes, because they can no longer function effectively there. Although an injury, a health condition, or a change associated with normal aging appears to be to blame, the real culprit is the constructed environment. The costs in terms of productivity, business/organizational success, and quality of life, are huge, but largely overlooked.

The baby boomers and the future of design

As 76 million Baby Boomers begin to experience the inevitable changes that come with advancing age, they are shedding unprecedented light on this issue. Communities and institutions everywhere are beginning to recognize the importance of keeping this formidable generation socially and economically engaged for the rest of their lives. As we respond with strategies for creating a more lifespan-friendly constructed environment, design professionals must re-think our definition of “average,” and the way we look at design.

Turning the page on short-sighted design practices:  Lifespan Design Studio

Lifespan Design Studio grew out of this emerging phenomenon in 2006, but our team members have actively pursued study, professional involvements, and project experiences to enhance our understanding of aging-related design issues for more than two decades. Although a significant portion of our practice focuses on senior centers, we are equally dedicated to maintaining a broad-based practice in which lifespan design principles are incorporated seamlessly in places people utilize at any age.