Unlocking Opportunities in Senior Living Design

Dec 6, 2023

The Urban Land Institute Fall Meeting held in Los Angeles in October, recently brought together a dynamic group of professionals representing various sectors of the senior living industry. From financial experts and lenders to operators, owners, construction professionals, and architects, the event provided a unique opportunity for engagement and collaboration. The summit covered a wide range of topics, addressing the current state of the industry in relation to lending, interest rates, renovations, loan types, and senior living metrics.

Challenges in Obtaining Funding:

One of the key discussions at the summit centered around the challenges associated with obtaining funds in the current economic climate, particularly due to high interest rates. Lending, particularly for new construction projects, has significantly decreased. This challenge has forced industry players to reevaluate their strategies and shift the spotlight towards renovations as a viable alternative for continued growth and development.

Renovation Focus: The Three R’s - Refresh, Renovate, Reposition

A significant highlight of the fall meeting was a panel presentation that distilled renovation strategies into a simple framework: the three R's - Refresh, Renovate, Reposition. These principles serve as a guide for senior living professionals looking to enhance and develop their communities without embarking on new construction projects.

1. Refresh:

·       Refresh involves rejuvenating existing spaces with minimal changes.

·       Interior design services mainly focus on modernizing spaces by updating furnishings, specifying new paint colors, and incorporating new decor elements.

·       Refresh strategies are designed to revitalize senior living spaces without the need for major structural changes.

2. Renovate:

·       Renovation involves more substantial changes than simple refreshing, going beyond basic cosmetic updates.

·       This may include modernizing facilities, upgrading amenities, and improving infrastructure.

·       Renovation efforts are customized to address the changing needs and preferences of senior residents.

3. Reposition:

·       Repositioning takes a strategic approach to transform the community's identity.

·       This may involve rebranding, redesigning spaces for new programming, or targeting a different demographic through modified levels of care.

·       Repositioning helps senior living communities maintain their relevance in a constantly changing market.

Key Takeaways:

The ULI Fall Meeting provided a platform for senior living professionals to navigate the challenges posed by high-interest rates and limited lending opportunities. By emphasizing the importance of renovations, particularly through The Three R's – Refresh, Renovate, Reposition – industry leaders are finding innovative ways to enhance the quality of senior living without solely relying on net-new construction. This strategic shift not only ensures the continued growth and success of senior living communities but also fosters a positive and enriching environment for the elderly population they serve.

Meg Stevens, Senior Design Manager LEED AP directs her creative senior living interiors team with a collaborative energy that engages design possibility in every project. It is at this intersection of strategic development and inviting interiors that Meg and her team thrive.  Developing a profound portfolio that spans more than a decade, Meg is recognized for her wide range of projects across the hospitality, senior living and health + wellness sectors. The throughline in every design project Meg and her team undertake is the consideration of the guest and how they will interact with the space and how it will positively impact their lives.

 At Chipman Design Architecture, Meg is charged with design management with a specialty in senior living communities, taking projects from conceptualization through completion. She is adept at developing the overall interior concept and designing specifically for seniors’ needs across care levels while developing the design direction, space plan and overlaying materials and finishes. Her management skills continue through construction documents and specifications, FF+E budgeting, design presentations, project installations and all client relations.

Chipman Design Architecture (WBE) is a people-first, family-owned senior living, retail, and hospitality, architecture firm composed of innovators, architects, and interior designers who love collaborating, breaking boundaries, and creating spaces for tomorrow. For over forty years, the firm has separated themselves with a focus on the future in regard to organizational structure, customer experience and fostering community. With corporate headquarters in Chicago, and five additional national offices, Chipman Design provides interior design, experiential design, and architectural expertise throughout North America. Today, the firm’s Principal team, led by third generation family member, and CEO, Lauren Chipman, offers innovation and professionalism through complete architectural and interior design services. Through membership in the U.S. Green Building Council, the firm’s commitment to sustainability and lowering energy consumption continues to reinforce recognition of the critical role of architects in today’s world.