A Texas A&M doctoral student’s concepts for a senior residential facility that encourages resident’s physical activity, lowers their risk of disability and increases their social engagement, earned her a $10,000 grant from the American Institute of Architects.
The funds were awarded as part a 2017-18 Arthur N. Tuttle, Jr. Graduate Fellowship in Health Facility Planning and Design presented to Jin-Ting Lee for her Ph.D. final study project.
“Residential design can promote a safer and healthier lifestyle for older adults, and may improve their overall wellness on a large scale,” said Lee, pointing out that residential hazards, especially in bathrooms, are a major cause of falls and other events requiring medical care.
Lee has been conducting discussions, design workshops and surveys with seniors living in high-rise buildings in Singapore and the healthcare professionals who serve them to learn how social structures and high-rise building designs affect residents’ health.
Lee will use her findings to design a conceptual facility focusing on seniors’ health and wellness. She wants to maximize residents’ social connectivity by preventing isolation and loneliness, which researchers have found to be as strong risk factor for mortality as smoking, obesity or lack of physical activity.
The doctoral student is partnering with Singapore’s Geriatric Education and Research Institute to develop design strategies addressing problems revealed in the study. She will then test the feasibility of the resulting design in a survey of seniors and senior healthcare professionals.
Lee believes that that her findings will be widely applicable and adaptable to a broad range of high-density urban settings throughout the world, and that her project’s methodology will provide a new approach to design research and serve as a model for future design-based investigations.
Since its inception in 1950, the fellowship, renamed to honor Tuttle, an architect and educator who died in 2003, has funded graduate studies by 31 Texas A&M design students.