Aging Conference Hosts Workshop on Planning for Age-Related Design Issues

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A unique two-part workshop taking place this week in Long Beach, California — at the 42nd Annual Meeting and Educational Leadership Conference of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) — will integrate the knowledge and experience of gerontologists into the future design of a residential care facility for older adults located in Southern California.

The workshop, titled “Charrette Planning for Age-Related Design Issues,” has sessions on March 3 and March 5 at the Westin Long Beach and represents a multi-partner effort led by AGHE’s Environmental Design Committee. Drs. Peggy Perkinson and Alan DeLaTorre, environmental gerontologists and co-chairs of the committee, said they wanted to try something different than a typical conference symposium.

“We are using the concept of a design charrette — a participatory process for integrating design into projects that are going to be undertaken,” said DeLaTorre, a research associate at Portland State University’s Institute on Aging. “Because we don’t have time to cover all aspects of the facility, we are mainly focusing on designing appropriate social spaces in the facility and the design of external spaces in the front and back yards. If everything goes well, we hope to replicate this effort at next year’s conference site in Miami.”

He added that both the workshop and AGHE conference highlight the importance of gerontology in higher education. Several former students of his and Dr. Maria Claver — another member of the planning team and a professor at California State University, Long Beach — have been integral in developing the workshop, according to DeLaTorre.

“One of them, Elizabeth Dobson, a graduate of Cal State Long Beach, is actually our main community partner, as she is planning to open a future facility,” he said. “These workshops are intended to give her insight into real life, tangible outcomes that can improve that facility.”

The workshop is sponsored by Ankrom Moisan, an architecture firm based in Portland and Seattle. The firm is sending Rachel Browne — an architect who specializes in senior-specific projects and who previously worked with DeLaTorre on her senior thesis project at Portland State University — in order to facilitate desired outcomes and to consider how academics and practitioners can work together to produce good environments for the world’s rapidly aging population.

The planning team also includes Dr. Melissa Cannon, another of DeLaTorre’s former students who helped him successfully carry out a similar charrette in 2011.

AGHE’s meeting, taking place March 3 to 6 at the Westin Long Beach, is the premier national forum for the discussion of issues in gerontological and geriatrics education. The 2016 conference theme is “Developing Educational Leadership in Gerontology Worldwide.” For more information, visit www.aghe.org/events/annual-meeting.

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