arcCA Design for Aging Journal Released

The journal of the American Institute of Architects California Council, (arcCA), released the DESIGN FOR AGING issue.  The PDF is not yet posted online but you may order print copies of the magazine by contacting Lori Reed, AIACC’s Director of Communications, at lreed or by calling her at 916-448-9082.

arcCA Cover

When Tim Culvahouse, FAIA, arcCA editor and Andrew Sharlach, Associate Dean and Professor of Social Welfare at the University of California at Berkeley presented the issue at the monthly San Francisco meeting of the AIA Design for Aging knowledge group I knew I wanted to pass the information on to others who might be interested in a beautifully designed journal with over ten articles by leading experts in the field with interesting perspectives on aging and the built environment. Enjoy. While you’re checking out the Journal, also visit the AIA DFA site; I think you will be excited by what it does.

arcCA mtg

Free Articles – Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments

The first issue of The Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments has just been published and four of the articles can be accessed online free of charge. Click here.


Click on the first issue and the free articles have a green mark in front of the titles.  The subscription fee for this journal for 2009 is regularly priced at €338 / US$490

Visit for more options and information.

Keith Richards Falling Out Of A Palm Tree


Santa was good to me this year because the top pick from my Amazon wishlist was given to me as a gift, the book Home Design in an Aging World by Jeffrey P. Rosenfeld and Wid Chapman.  Here is a highlight from the first few chapters.  Future blog entries will feature other notable quotes, ideas and images.

“Imagine Keith Richards falling out of a palm tree. That’s the generation we built this for. The Building says, ‘Let’s pretend that everyone is happy and healthy, but if you need anything, you can get it.  It’s a back door to being old.” Dutch Architect Arnoud Gelauff, speaking about Plussenburg, his design for a high-rise for seniors 55 and older and the new meaning of home and home design in an aging world.

Plussenburgh is an apartment building for the elderly in the Netherlands, was inspired by the forthcoming retirement of the hippie generation. The project embraces its target market’s denial of aging by proposing a playful, colorful apartment block. The main structure juxtaposes a tower and an elevated slab. The slab volume is lifted more than 30 feet above a water feature in an open plaza, and creates a spectacular view onto an existing pond from the adjacent pre-existing nursing home. The minimal footprint of the tower creates space for a garden.

The two main volumes consist of apartments with a broad, uninterrupted span that allows for multiple floorplans and adaptability in the future. An inconspicuous elevator shaft connects the new building to the older one, where medical personnel, cooks and other help is available.

Wavy balconies and the glazed galleries—set with self-cleaning glass—are smooth and colored in over 200 different shades of glass are other architectural features that speak to the playfulness, experimentation and shared memories of the psychedelic 1960’s.

Also noteworthy is the image of the Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards is from a new Louis Vuitton ad campaign. Photographer Annie Leibowitz shot the ad that uses a tagline very appropriate to this book, and the POV of GoodDesignAgeWell, “Some journeys cannot be put into words. New York 3 a.m. Blues in C.”

Are you a Design Thinker?

According to a recent post from the New York Times technology writer, David Pogue, some manufacturers of digital picture frames need to improve their product development process and perhaps take an introductory course on user-centered design. Pogue’s recommendation to improve design probably applies to all product manufacturers. Following are questions #1 and #2 from Pogue’s quiz to determine one’s design skills. Here is the full quiz.

Question 1: Which is right: to build in a power switch (as on the frames from Kodak and iMate), so you can turn the frame off at night? Or to omit the power switch, so that your customers have to crawl on the floor to unplug the whole thing (as on the eStarling and others)?

Question 2: Which is the right design for a Wi-Fi frame: to display the names of available wireless networks screen for your selection (Kodak and iMate Momento)? Or to require you to connect the frame to a computer with a U.S.B. cord, download a piece of network-sniffing software from a Web site, and use that to display the names of available networks (like the eStarling)?

What are your results for the remainder of the quiz? Would you rate yourself as a natural designer, savvy user or perpetrator of bad design decisions?

Stamp of Approval. Third-Party Certification.

Unverisal Design Certification Seal

Consumers seeking guidance to make buying decisions in a market cluttered with too much information often turn to third-party certifications and recommendations.

The Good Housekeeping Seal of approval has long been a symbol to protect consumers against defective products. Online ratings of products, detailed product reviews, plus ratings on the buyers and sellers themselves help online shoppers make informed decisions and avoid scams.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification provides verification that “…a building project meets the highest green building and performance measures.” A new initiative in Germany strives to identify and certify products that meet universal design standards; “…products that are self-explaining, easy to handle, universally applicable, usable across generations; and meet the technical criteria of, safety, material properties, forces and norms, can be certified.”

Will this European initiative make its way to North American or will market forces remain the natural process to weed out poorly designed products, (Zune), and allow the well designed product to flourish, (iPod)? If the universal design certification is adopted by the US the name may have to change from Ausgeziechnet, to something more user friendly for non-German speakers.