The DFA September Committee Meeting was delighted to feature Rich Rosen, AIA, and Geoffrey Roesch, ASLA, AIA, both Principals at Perkins Eastman, who shared insights into one of their firm’s current project: Avandell Dementia Village, which was prominently featured in a recent New York Times article:

“As yet, there are no dementia villages in the United States, apart from a Hogeweyk-inspired dementia-care day center in South Bend, Ind. But one is in development in Holmdel, N.J., with plans to open its doors in the next two to three years. Designed by Perkins Eastman, an architecture firm based in New York, Avandell will comprise 15 homes in a farmhouse aesthetic, to reflect the rural surroundings. The suburban-style community is set to include a town center with a grocery store, bistro and community center. … Preparing for the future has been baked into the model.” – Joann Plockova, New York Times

Rich and Geoffrey described what dementia care was like 30 years ago, taking Perkins Eastman’s 1992 project Woodside Place in Oakmont, PA as example. Compared to other dementia facilities of the time, the scale at Woodside Place went from a large institutional setting to a much smaller building. The building was divided into three household wings, where 10 residents were grouping with dining and living areas, with access to secure landscaped gardens. Each house had a visual theme used for cueing and wayfinding to help orient residents. Another innovative feature was the Dutch door that when the upper half is left open, staff could look into private bedrooms for monitoring and residents don’t feel locked up. 

Then came the Green House Project, which created beginnings of a village. Following were many other residential care projects all around the nation. In Europe there were also Hogeweyk Village in Amsterdam, Netherland, which was a small town with invisible secure perimeter, where 168 residents were surrounded by equal number of trained staff wearing everyday clothes. Based on the related research and project experiences, Perkins Eastman then began to create white papers on senior living – Perkins Eastman Thought Leadership, publication – Missing Main Street, and Podcast on Dementia – Shaping Dementia Environments, interviewing people in US and Canada who had developed unique dementia programs.

Larry Carlson, recently retired CEO of United Methodists in NJ, thought that there had to be a better way to have residences for those with dementia. He began working with Perkins Eastman to create Avandell Dementia Village. With human-centered approach to design, this project sets up a shared dementia-friendly environment, for 105 residents in 15 houses organized in neighborhoods that are connected without going outside. Buildings are developed in a weaving model, focusing on the three themes of empowered self, meaningful place and authentic community, creating opportunities for the residents to personalize their rooms. The project is expected to open in two years.


Besides the wonderful sharing from Rich and Geoffrey, DFA also have two relevant events in this month:

  • Archtober event – SAGE Center Brooklyn at Stonewall House Tour on October 11, where Ted Porter Architecture gave a tour of the SAGE center and showcased their design which provide a welcoming space where older adults can enjoy services and programs related to arts and culture, food and nutrition, fitness, health and wellness, and lifelong education within a warm, inviting setting.
  • New York School of Interior Design Studio Presentations on October 10 at the Center, where New York School of Interior Design professional-level Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design (MFA1) students presented their research and design projects from last year’s Interior Design Studio II focusing on Universal Design Principles and Accessibility in the residential environment.

The complete meeting agenda with an extended list of ideas from previous meetings and events in formation for Tafel Hall panels can be accessed here. Please note that the DFA October Committee meeting will take pace on Wednesday, October 25, adjusted date because of Annual Bond Gala taking place on 10/26. We look forward to seeing everyone in October!