University Students Design Retirement Community in Virginia

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 19 December 2011

Architecture students from the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech got a special assignment this year: design the retirement community of the future.

In the Roanoke Times, Sarah Bruyn Jones details a research partnership between Friendship Retirement Community, a Roanoke campus that 900 seniors call home, and the schools.

As senior care costs rise along with longevity, so do concerns among retirees about how long their savings will last. Students, staff and industry leaders involved in the partnership are hopeful that a focus on architecture may help allay these fears.

Students must work towards the following goal: design an affordable retirement community “with little or no rate increases” that can adapt “to the physical needs of aging residents. They envision a “walkable” senior living campus that is not dependent on cars, a community market, residences integrating technology that fosters adaptation as needs change, and a number of “recreational amenities” tailored to aging in place.

Russ Barksdale, CEO of Friendship Retirement, hopes the collaboration results in the development of communities that can better adjust to a spectrum of needs, which may alleviate some of the cost disparities. As he puts it, “Some [seniors] are spending too much money for care they don’t require, while others can’t afford the care they need.”

As Friendship Retirement Community has plans for new construction in the works, students will be able to put their design ideas into practice come spring.


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