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The DFA Committee is Partnering with the City of Boston as a Professional Resource in the Major, Citywide Age-Friendly Boston Initiative

Boston Society of Architects Design for Aging Committee - Project Description

Between 2010 and 2030, Massachusetts’ projected 6% population growth is expected to occur almost entirely among older adults. In fact, the group of individuals 65 years and older is expected to grow by 61%.* Addressing the social, physical and environmental needs of the aging population 
requires the skills and expertise of a wide range of professionals, policy makers, advocates, family members and aging individuals themselves.

The Boston Society of Architects Design for Aging committee (BSA/DFA), a chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Design for Aging Knowledge Community, is a unique group of architects, interior designers, and allied professionals established to foster design innovation 
and disseminate knowledge to enhance the built environment and quality of life for seniors. Realizing the need to prepare for Boston’s rapidly changing demographics, the BSA/DFA has committed to partnering with the City of Boston as a professional resource in the major, citywide 
Age-Friendly Boston initiative. The BSA/DFA sees this as an exciting moment to demonstrate Boston’s potential to lead the nation as a community that supports healthy aging.

The goals for the project are two-fold, and bring to bear the value of the design process in tackling complex issues. First, working closely with Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Age-friendly Boston partners, the BSA/DFA will bring a human focus to recent demographic research, considering the 
needs of individuals and adding a face to the data. We believe this will enhance the City’s ability to gain support from its citizens, the business community, and the legislative body charged with funding and creating policy to address aging issues. Secondly, the BSA/DFA will engage the broader design community, local colleges, and universities to develop principles of best practices to be used in building Boston’s future housing, facilities, and outdoor spaces for older adults. The project has three major elements:

  1. Participating in planned community “Listening Sessions” throughout the City to identify issues in the built environment specific to aging in Boston, and documenting the daily lives of selected seniors within diverse Boston neighborhoods though videography and still photography. This will culminate in a video and photo- exhibition/reception in November 2015, concurrent with the national LeadingAge conference being held in Boston, thus exposing to a national audience Boston’s leadership in serving its older population.
  2. Serving as a resource to the City of Boston and its Department of Neighborhood Development in developing guidelines and principles of best practices to be used in building future housing, facilities, and outdoor spaces for older adults.
  3. Leading design charrette workshops with local design firms, colleges, and universities to explore and address issues identified in the listening sessions, data analysis, and video/photo documentation. The charrettes will take place concurrently with and inform the development of design guidelines.

The BSA/DFA planning committee has begun partnering with the City’s Age-Friendly Boston in this exciting endeavor and fundraising for the project is underway.

Diane M. Dooley
Ruth Neeman
Boston Society of Architects Design for Aging Committee

*UMass Boston, Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging. (2013). Projected population by age [Fact Sheet #2]. Boston, MA: Author