Senior Housing – “beyond sticks and bricks”

November 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Kasey Burke, Senior Vice President of Meta Housing, accepts SAGE award (left), and S111’s Michael Bohn meets with SAGE “Person of the Year” Annie Gerard (right).

Last week Studio One Eleven was honored at the 2010 SAGE Awards Dinner for our Long Beach Senior Arts Colony, which was recognized in the “On the Boards” category. The SAGE Award highlights individuals, projects and programs that have made outstanding contributions to enhance the quality of life of Southern California residents aged 50+. This year there were a record number of entries, so we are proud to be a part of a winning team.

The SAGE Awards are given annually by the 50+ Housing Council, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary. Many of the influential icons in the senior housing industry were acknowledged at the event, including John Huskey, President of Meta Housing Corporation, Vicki Clark, President of Vintage Senior Housing, and Barbara Krueger, founder of the first 50+ Housing Council in Orange County.  It was a great opportunity to network and learn about the issues that guide our work as architects who design for senior and/or affordable housing projects.

The jury was impressed with the Senior Arts Colony, which we entitled in 3 months in early 2009 and developed drawings for since early 2010.  “[The Long Beach Senior Artists Colony] is a great example of the ‘future’ of 50+ housing” the jury stated. “It has impressive, well-executed contemporary architecture in a mid-rise design on an infill site. The developer’s successful arts programs (including an in-house theatre group) and commitment to engaging residents is taken to an even higher level.”

SAGE ‘Person of the Year’ Annie Gerard – senior housing market research expert and Principal with Apt Market Research – gave a great speech that culminated in a call to action. The housing industry has evolved significantly over the past two decades, and today the eminent growth of the senior population, coupled with a weakened economy, means that senior housing – and especially affordable senior housing – is in great demand. Further, Gerard described, “We have a much better understanding [today] that creating thriving senior communities goes way beyond sticks and bricks. Long Beach Senior Artists Colony, tonight’s “on the boards” winner, is an outstanding example of a community that specifically encourages seniors to be actively engaged.”

The Long Beach Senior Arts Colony responds to this exhortation by offering housing that is affordable, attractive, and engaging to the increasing number of seniors in its design, programming, and location. It is located at the transit-heavy node of Long Beach Boulevard and Anaheim Street, and thus is very well-connected via the Metro Blue Line and bus system to downtown Long Beach and Los Angeles, local medical facilities, universities, employment hubs, and neighborhood amenities. The building is modern and warm in character, reflecting its location in an urban environment. And it will be a sustainable and healthy community, as it follows the City’s Green Building Policy of LEED Certified equivalent, and contains programmed community spaces that keep residents active in body and mind – including workout and yoga facilities, art studios, billiards and game rooms, and a performing arts theater.

Several past SAGE Award winners were interviewed prior to the event, and video clips describing their experience and thoughts on the future direction of the industry were presented throughout the evening. One of the key themes was the lack of housing for all the aging baby boomers, and most significantly, the gap in services for those who financially fall in the between those who can afford private assisted living care and those who qualify for government assistance. One of the challenges today is the need for more advocates who can lead the charge to bring this critical issue to the forefront.

For more on the Long Beach Senior Arts Colony, including project renderings and local press coverage, visit our website at


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