I'm a big fan of universal design. So when an email from Cynthia Leibrock, announcing her Harvard program this summer hit my box this week, it got me thinking about it again.
This year Leibrock and Mary Jo Petersen are presenting the benefits of integrating universal design into all residential projects, not just those for older and disabled people. They believe that universal design can improve the quality of life, increasing open space, offering better lighting, and improving acoustics.
"We are emphasizing the proactive side of universal design showing how it can motivate clients to a lifestyle that actually prevents disease, disability, and premature aging," wrote Leibrock.
Their day-long program on July 24 addresses the current housing options available to older adults and presents a housing model that suggests people can truly age in place without moving.
I don't know Mary Jo, but Leibrock is an engaging presenter and her latest book, Design Details for Health is chock-full of universal design ideas and checklists for both homes and healthcare facilities. So, this promises to be a great program.
But, is aging in place right for everybody? Many of us will want to move from our current homes -- because they are too big, require too much maintenance, have too many levels/stairs, etc.
What Leibrock and Petersen are advocating is not only important for those their 60s and 70s who want to age in place, but also for older people looking for their next home -- whether it be stand alone house, condo, apartment; or a dwelling in a continuing care retirement community or assisted living facility.
It's also important for younger people who are renovating existing or building new homes. And for those who are designing and building those homes -- as well as those who are designing and building healthcare facilities.
Universal design is truly universal -- not only for people of all ages and abilities, but for any type of building or home.
(If you want to know more about Leibrock's philosophy, check out this video she made a few years ago)
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