The Side Hustle: How to Attract ‘The Entrepreneur Generation’ to Campus

Colleges and universities of every size must consider entrepreneurship program spaces that address the aspirations of today’s students. Dubbed ‘The Entrepreneur Generation,‘ many expect to start their own company—almost 54% of Gen Z’s according to a recent Nielsen study.  Likewise, Gallup found that 40% of 5th to 12th Graders plan to start a business.

This generation, born after 1996 and raised in the ‘influencer’ age, seeks financial independence and the opportunity to make an impact. Gen Z (also called Zoomers) grew up seeing Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard roommates create Facebook in 2004. Startups like Mashable, Tumblr, Firefox and Box followed suit, with founders under the age of 22. And in 2019, the world witnessed activist Greta Thunberg taking on the United Nations Climate Action group at the age of 16.

To respond to the entrepreneurial spirit of Gen Z and help these future leaders develop relevant skills and experience, campuses are investing in maker spaces, think-tanks, incubators and innovation centers located across disciplines and in multiple buildings to encourage access to these resources for all students.

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The Devil is in the Details: Designing a Building Envelope to Stand the Test of Time

I’m one of the drafters at RLPS.  We’re the people who document all of the details of constructing a building – how all of the individual pieces go together.  Yes, we use state-of-the-art 3D modeling software to design each building, but we still “draw” a lot of the details individually – the digital equivalent of putting pencil to paper.

What is the building envelope?

One aspect of building design that we spend a lot of time detailing is the building “envelope”, the outer layers of the building that keep the elements out and keep the interior comfortable.  The envelope performs those duties by managing and controlling heat transfer, rain and snow, water vapor and air movement. Continue reading

There’s a Code for That? Hand Sanitizer Station Guidelines for Schools & Campuses

Hand sanitizer guidelines can be found in the International Building Code and the International Fire Code

There are differing opinions regarding best scenarios for getting back to classes this month. Good hand hygiene is the most universally accepted measure for keeping students, staff and faculty safe when returning in-person to schools and campuses this fall. Many of our education clients have indicated that installation of hand sanitizer dispensers is a key component of their preparations. However, it is important to be aware of hand sanitizer guidelines when installing or placing stations in your buildings.

A Simple Solution, but Guidelines Can’t be Overlooked

Hand sanitizer is a preferred hygiene solution due to having less touch points than the traditional soap and sink hand washing.  Its ease of use and ready availability may also encourage more frequent sanitizing by students. Hand sanitizer dispenses are simple to implement, with both wall installation and self-standing options available.

Did you know  that hand sanitizers are addressed in the International Building Code and the International Fire Code for all school and campus buildings? According to the codes, hand sanitizer is not considered a hazardous material if dispensers are installed correctly and limited quantities of material are stored appropriately.  However, incorrectly installed or stored supplies risk being flagged by code enforcement officials as hazardous material. Continue reading

Isolation Rooms in Residence Halls: Will They Be the New Norm?

Is now the time to introduce isolation rooms in campus residence halls? A single room with an en suite bathroom for students who require heightened privacy has become a programming “must” for new and renovated residence halls. Often referred to as “medical rooms,” they provide a private room and bathroom for students with medical needs.  This includes conditions like Crohn’s Disease, diabetes, or other immunodeficiency disorders.  More recently these rooms have been available at some institutions for students who are transitioning or exploring their identity development.

Following the onset of COVID-19, our architectural team has been discussing if higher education institutions need to consider a similarly designed room for residence halls—an isolation room. This type of specialized space is commonly found in medical facility design, but isolation rooms are not typically included on college and university campuses.  Could isolation rooms be one of the long-term changes we see? Continue reading

COVID-19 SENTIMENT REPORT: Survey of Independent Living Desirability and Safety

As we look to the future, there are many questions about how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is going to impact senior living communities.

How will this health crisis reshape consumer priorities and delivery of services to older adults?

Are social isolation requirements and community quarantines causing people to re-evaluate senior housing options?

How do staff members feel about the added pressures they are facing and how is the new normal impacting their ability to provide services?

To start to answer some of those questions and help senior living communities prepare for the future, RLPS was one of the sponsors for a senior living survey of independent living desirability and safety spearheaded by Plante Moran Living Forward and Retirement Dynamics. This survey included independent living residents, prospective residents, and staff members in 70 communities located in 13 states.  More than 5,000 survey responses were collected, along with 7,000+ write-in comments and compiled into the final report.

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By submitting this form, you consent to sharing your information with the report sponsors, who may use it to communicate with you regarding this report and their other services. You may opt out of any sponsors’ email marketing material at any time by contacting the specific sponsor.

The COVID-19 Sentiment Report will help us better understand how people feel about living or working in an independent living community and how the pandemic is impacting future choices and priorities. The insights from this report will help us reshape senior living communities and services for long-term market strength and resiliency.

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REINVENTION: Breathing New Life into An Existing Senior Living Community

Over time, things wear out, expectations change, and attitudes adjust. Things will never be as they once were, and the ability to adapt to change is the key to survival.  Few community sponsors have the luxury to start over, but all have the ability to reinvent. Reinvention provides an exciting opportunity for good stewardship, while breathing new life into an existing community.

As consumer demographics, product preferences and service priorities continue to evolve, senior living communities can, and must, likewise reinvent themselves to remain relevant.

“In the past, it was not unusual for many of our clients to be the only option in town, but that’s rarely the case anymore,” says Eric McRoberts, AIA.  “Even in challenging economic times, providers still need to move ahead, it just might need to be more incremental.”

Whether for financial reasons, land constraints or stewardship of resources, reinvention is a viable consideration. If the existing infrastructure is a good fit for your program goals, substantial value can be gained from building re-use. Continue reading

Passive House: Exploring the Potential for Net Zero and Energy Positive Buildings

Andy Allwine, AIA, recently attended the 14th annual North America Passive House Conference, sponsored by Passive House Institute US. The conference, titled “The Profitable Blueprint for ZERO,” included pre-conference education sessions, keynote talks and two days of education sessions all centered on passive building techniques, detailing and marketing, building science, carbon neutrality and safe building materials. We asked Andy about some of his take-aways from this conference.

What is a Passive House?

A passive house is a building with an airtight, well-ventilated, highly thermally insulated enclosure that reduces the external loads on the building and allows for a smaller, more efficient mechanical system. These factors also happen to make for a more durable building that requires less maintenance, provides a higher degree of health and comfort for occupants and helps mitigate the effects of climate change through radically reduced energy consumption and global warming potential. Almost any building type, use, size, and climate region can achieve passive house standards, including retrofit conditions. In my option, almost all of our projects would be worthy candidates to apply this standard.

According to the Passive House Institute, the term passive house is something of a misnomer as the approach is increasingly being applied to multifamily apartment buildings and large scale commercial buildings as well. As a result, the term passive building is gradually coming into more common usage, as it’s a more accurate term than passive house. Continue reading

Community Outreach for Wellness

Senior wellness is defined by more than just physical health. As humans, we are social by nature, seeking ongoing opportunities to remain connected to people and places around us. Wellness programming that engages both the physical and mental elements of older adults’ well-being presents creative opportunities for today’s senior living communities.

Seniors may experience loneliness due to the loss of a spouse or partner, or distance from family and friends. While senior living wellness programs offer ample opportunities for social and emotional engagement, older adults can also benefit from opportunities that transcend community boundaries.

The Viva Centre at Woodcrest Villa in Lancaster, PA hosts performances open to the community.

Wellness programming that exposes residents to external community connections can prevent isolation and loneliness and give older adults a sense of purpose. Community partnerships that provide opportunities for intergenerational interaction through the community’s own facilities, educational outreach, or other public programs not only expand social connections, but also engage residents’ unending desire to learn.

As a result, senior living communities are creating wellness programs that facilitate resident experiences both on and off campus, and also allow non-residents to enjoy programs available within a senior living community.

Performance centers integrated within a campus or community center can help residents fulfill a need for intellectual and social stimulation. Art exhibitions, concerts, staged productions, and other events that are opened to the public elevate the community’s value for all guests. This is a powerful marketing tool, demonstrating a vibrant and active community lifestyle for non-residents to see.

The pool at Tel Hai in Honey Brook, PA is also used by the Twin Valley Aquatic Club and High School swimming teams. The aquatics center features six lanes equipped with starting blocks, a timing/scoring system and two levels of spectator seating.

Pools and natatoriums are often considered basic physical wellness components, but don’t need to be limited exclusively to resident use. Like a performing arts center, opening a pool or natatorium to the greater community can build strong public partnerships with local groups and educational institutions. Allowing swim teams or not-for-profit groups to use the facility for competition or educational programs creates intergenerational opportunities for residents and community members alike. Resident volunteers can participate as hospitality hosts, timing officials, swim meet marshals or in other capacities. A campus may also allow employees and community members to register for pool memberships that permit access to the facility during set hours.

Intellectual curiosity and educational exploration are common themes, as most senior living residents maintain their love of learning well into older age. Lifelong learning opportunities on and off campus are an increasingly popular program offering among seniors. Pursuing educational or informational courses can help older adults refresh early life experiences, learn new skills, and understand distant cultures while interacting with others who share common interests.

The key to life-long well-being lies in both physical and cognitive exercise. Senior living wellness programs need not be limited to campus residents alone. Operators who can open wellness programming to staff, not-for-profit groups, and others from the greater community create a win-win for campus residents and the general public alike.

For more about how wellness is evolving in the senior living arena, read our latest case study, Wellness in Independent Living, available through the Wellness resource page.

To learn how Wellness might fit your development needs, Contact Us today for more information.

Outdoor Programming for Wellness

Wellness among older adults has traditionally been considered a physical goal of health and mobility, often achieved in a gym, pool, or fitness center. But senior living community operators are now tapping into the natural environment for resident wellness programming opportunities as well.

Rooftop garden maintained by residents at Waverly Heights in Gladwyne, PA

Today’s senior living population is more active into older age, and often engage in some type of physical activity as part of their lifestyle. A significant portion of seniors cite wellness programs as a deciding factor in choosing a senior living community, suggesting that wellness is increasingly important to both current and future residents.

In response to changing expectations, senior living communities are looking outdoors to enhance their resident wellness programming. Including exterior spaces such as walking trails, community gardens, exercise areas, and fitness stations not only serves to enhance residents’ physical health, but other areas of wellness as well.

Outdoor wellness programming in senior living environments has been proven to positively impact all areas of resident wellness. In this context, the term wellness takes into account the whole person, incorporating not just physical health, but also residents’ emotional, spiritual, intellectual, occupational, social, and environmental well-being.

Open-air senior living environments now serve multiple purposes. A beautifully-landscaped community courtyard may double as a meditation garden or exercise area for yoga, tai chi, and other fitness classes. While focused on physical exercise, these activities also encourage social interaction and serve to enhance residents’ emotional, spiritual, and environmental wellness. Flower gardens maintained by community residents can be used for social and emotional wellness, or to visually enhance interior spaces by bringing nature indoors.

Recreation areas for lawn games such as bocce ball and croquet, or shuffleboard and pickle ball courts, target residents’ physical health, yet also enhance their social, occupational, and environmental wellness. Intentionally designed exterior spaces, like walking trails with fitness stations, offer less strenuous activity than lawn games but create equally impactful environmental and social experiences.

Al fresco dining with adjacent community greenhouse at Brandermill Woods in Midlothian, VA

Outdoor cooking and dining present additional opportunities for senior living wellness programming. Open-air cooking classes and demonstrations, fully-equipped outside kitchens, and al fresco dining venues are increasingly popular among senior living communities for their social, intellectual, environmental, and occupational values. Produce made available through community herb or vegetable gardens and greenhouses can be used to create a farm-to-table experience and promote healthy eating.

Meeting seniors’ wellness needs transcends physical exercise and therapy activities. Today’s residents want greater opportunities to maintain and enhance their wellness as part of a healthy lifestyle. Senior living communities are looking to the natural environment to improve residents’ lives across the spectrum of wellness, helping to provide spaces to socialize and enjoy individual and group activities that stimulate the mind as well as the body.

For more about how wellness is evolving in the senior living arena, read our latest case study, Wellness in Independent Living, available through the Wellness resource page.

To learn how Wellness might fit your development needs, Contact Us today for more information.

The Evolution of A Senior Housing Model: Hybrid Homes™ 2.0

Hybrid homes™ evolved as a new senior housing model that enabled providers to incrementally add independent housing with more flexible financing options and the potential for a la carte service offerings with a higher density footprint than stand-alone cottages. This model appeals to consumers for its outdoor connections, emphasis on natural light and appealing amenities including covered parking.

No two hybrid home models are alike.  Each community puts its own spin on the right mix and style of individual units, appropriate scale, regional building materials and optimal layout.  This ongoing evolution has led to the development of a new generation of hybrids based on diverse operator needs and consumer demands.

Community Connections

The original hybrid homes were stand-alone buildings, often constructed in pairs, but distinct from the main community center.  Typically marketed to more active adults who wanted to maintain their independent lifestyle, the hybrids were separated from campus amenities.  To counteract the potential isolation of this approach and strengthen community connections, many of the Hybrid 2.0 models provide covered walkway connections back to the community center.

The hybrid homes at The Langford, in College Station, Texas have a covered walkway connection to the community clubhouse.

These new Hybrid 2.0 models marry the two things the younger senior demographic values most: appealing private residences and opt-in socialization. Socialization is something baby boomers view as a choice. Want to share a meal? Invite neighbors over to your kitchen. Want to enjoy a quiet summer evening without interruption?  Head to your balcony, deliberately oriented on the corner to be as far from chatty neighbors as possible.

Hybrid homes offer both at the same time—corner units for maximum privacy, yet easy access to community amenities when social interaction is desired. For example, at The Langford at College Station, Texas, we worked with the owner to develop a hybrid home concept that connects to the campus clubhouse building via interior walkways, making it easy for these independent living residents to join in campus activities.

Covered Parking Options

They hybrid homes at Masonic Village, Elizabethtown, PA feature individual garages.

Another Hybrid 2.0 feature is taking a different approach to the covered parking aspect of hybrid homes.  At Sycamore Square in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, the owner endorsed an adjusted parking design with individual garages, each with its own door, eliminating the need for a full concrete-and-steel floor above the parking level. This market-friendly feature helped to lower the overall construction cost.

Multiple Price Points

New housing for Oakleaf Village in Toledo, Ohio needed to meet consumer expectations for abundant daylight, open floor plans and covered parking while maintaining affordability for older adults in this Midwestern working class area. The design result is two parallel hybrid home apartment buildings with a connected pavilion between them.  These three buildings form The Crescent, a micro-community for active seniors that is securing HUD financing to provide affordable rental housing.

Oakleaf Village in Toledo, Ohio is securing HUD financing to provide affordable rental housing for its new hybrid homes.

The variety of hybrid home options is expected to continue to expand as providers find new ways to customize the model to meet their available property constraints, consumer expectations, individual financial needs and market realities.

To learn more about hybrid homes and their potential for your senior living community, read our latest case study, Hybrid Homes: Evolution in Independent Living available through our Hybrid Homes resource page.

To learn how Hybrid 2.0 Homes might fit your development needs, please Contact Us for more information.