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Goldstein Museum of Design Presents Smart House Livable Community Your Future

The first of 70 million Baby Boomers will reach age 65 in 2011. The size and impact of this post World War II generation will challenge America’s resources, communities, and concepts of what it is to be a “senior.” An AARP survey qutoed in the Wall Street Journal (09/19/09)found that 85% of surveyed individuals age 50+ said they wish to remain in their community for as long as possible.

What does the desire to continue living independently mean for the design of homes for aging Baby Boomers, and for the design of communities? Housign Studies professor Marilyn Bruin and
Masters student Jodene Riha will address these questions in the upcoming exhibition, Smart House Livable Community, Your Future at the Goldstein Museum of Design (GMD), College of Design University of Minnesota (February 5-May 22, 2011.

About the the exhibition:
The home-related needs of aging Baby Boomers are the same as for any age group: a comfortable structure that provides a base for activities and for relationships; an opportunity for expressing one’s self through comfortable structure that provides a base for activities and for relationships; an opportunity for expressing one’s self through personalized choices of furnishings and objects; safety and security; and a place that provides continuity and “roots.” As Boomers age, a home’s design, furnishings and tools can accommodate changes that commonly accompany aging.

The exhibition willlook like a small,
attractive home inhabited by fictional, 65-ish homeowners, Jim and Sarah. Visitors will be encouraged to try out everything they see, starting with a welcoming flat-threshold doorway.

Jim and Sarah have renovated their 1960’s home so that they can continue to enjoy their active engaged lifestyle. Visitors can sit in a power-lifted chair, handle easy-to-use kitchen utensils, scoots around the kitchen on a wheeled chair to try out lower counters, operate an easy-open window, sit in a fully-adjustable desk chair at an ergonomically designed desk, and observe wall colors and lighting that ameliorate the impact of changing vision. The bath will feature a walk-in shower and reinforced wall for grab bars. Visitors will learn about a Fall Guard alert system, auto-dispensers for medications, special environmental controls, and tools and technologies that allow Jim and Sarah to do the activities that they enjoy and keep them connected to the world.

Through notes between Jim and Sarah and brief videos, visitors will be privy to the challenging decision-making process that the couple went through during the renovation and what they especially appreciate about the design features of their transformed home.

Related educational programming Workshops for three distinct audiences: A session for Builder/Designers/Remodelers about building or remodeling houses or condos to accommodate people as they age; a session for Baby Boomers and Caregivers on assistive technologies and how to team up with the designers, builders, or remodelers to create homes that support independent living; and a session for Community Planners/Policy Makers on transporting communities so people of all ages can enjoy the social, cultural, and natural amenities of community life.

Twin Cities Public Television (tpt) partnership: A 30-minute broadcast focused on the exhibition and its central ideas will also be available to public television stations nationwide.

Smart House website: A go-to source for resource information, downloadable workshop materials, educational modules that will allow website visitors to make decisions about designing a home for independent living, and the 30-minute tpt broadcast.

Financial support for the exhibition includes: Center on Aging, University of Minnesota; Institute of Museum and Library Services; Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging. GMD is supported in part by a grant from the Minnesota States Arts Board through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Smart House, Livable Community, Your Future
February 5 to May 22, 2011
Opening Reception February 4th, 6-8 PM

Image: The Goldstein Museum of Design

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