Engage at Every Age aims to house the two populations that have the most free time and the most potential to have fun; retirees and children. Our main population is the growing consort of grandparents who have primary or secondary custody of their grandchildren. This population has grown in recent years due to both economic, social, and health issues faced by many parents. The opioid epidemic is the most recent factor contributing to this trend. There are many pros to combining the two groups including energizing elders, improving child behavior, and the access to learning new skills from each other.
ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT: In order to have the children and the elders interact the building has programs suitable to both. These include a movie theatre, pool, reading space, and outdoor green areas. Spaces specifically designed for children, like the playground and the indoor play place, have adjacent sitting areas for the elders to look into the space and indirectly engage with and oversee the children. There is also a set of amenities catering to the adult population like a salon. A set of public programs including day care for children and one for adults, golf (mini and driving range), after school care, and programmed community activities and classes that occupy the low wing of the complex aim to create a community beyond the building occupants by sharing activities and spaces with nonresidents. These programs are also able to generate funds to offset the large amount of space allotted to non-revenue generating programs (like the pool or playground) subsidizing residents on a fixed income.
NETWORKED NEIGHBORHOOD: Units have a “porch space” at their front door that opens to the communal space. This space allows residents to interact with each other, bringing into a controlled space the ability for informal play in the street for these “neighborhoods”. From within the unit you have the ability to see to the communal space through the kitchen window, creating a more connected community. Each unit also has a balcony that provides an individual sunny outdoor space.
URBAN CONTEXT: The urban site near downtown is a perfect location for this population. First, it follows the trend of retirees relocating into urban centers to have more immediate access to amenities and lower maintenance requirements provided by apartment living. Secondly, it adds convenience for people working downtown with young children whose own parents have secondary custody.
This building is designed to bring play, convenience, and community support to a multi-generational population and capitalize on the benefits the two groups (elderly and children) can bring each other: to engage every person and every age.
The building begins as a concrete slab with a reinforced concrete column grid for the first two floors and then a pedestal plate was used to shift the column grid to accommodate the organic undulating architecture of the housing units in the above floors. The three circulation towers act as lateral force and are also reinforced and attached to mechanical system circulation. Five other mechanical system shafts run through the building to create structure and more lateral bracing. The "mushroom" columns used throughout the building create a childish relationship to the structure of the building and engage the occupants. The concrete structure allows for large curtain walls to be wrapped around the building. The mullion system used in the windows is brought out into the railings, as is the concrete slab on each floor.
Rossella Giangreco-Marotta (me) and Rebecca Flanagan worked together on this project.