Apartment Living BlogApartment Hunting › Senior Living: Retirement Communities Up Their Design

For years, people perceived elderly housing negatively. Residents had lost their independence, the thinking went, and been “put out to pasture.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Many seniors today are retiring in luxury. Their lavish senior communities are a far cry from their granny’s Victorian-style nursing homes – as evidenced by recent senior-housing design winners.

Present-day senior-living facilities can offer all the amenities of a five-star resort – complete with swimming pools, fitness centers and bistros. And they’re being designed with eco-friendly features to satisfy environmentally conscious Baby Boomers.

The Best of Senior Housing Design Today

Senior Housing News every year, in its Architecture & Design Awards, recognizes projects and companies working to improve the lives of seniors through innovative design. The 2016 winners were announced in December. Check out the photos and descriptions below to see the best of senior housing design in five major categories.

Continuing Care Retirement Community Winner

Carolina Bay, Wilmington, North Carolina, senior housing design winner

Carolina Bay, Wilmington, North Carolina. Designed by LS3P and BCT Architects for Liberty Development / Liberty Senior Living. Photo courtesy of Senior Housing News.

Carolina Bay | Wilmington, North Carolina

Carolina Bay offers independent living apartments and garden flat condos over 24 acres. Its design evokes a country club or resort with an architectural style known as “Cape Fear Heritage.” The style, featuring wraparound porches, is found in historic homes in downtown Wilmington. As a CCRC, Carolina Bay’s on-site health center offers assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care. Carolina Bay has four dining options, including a reservations-only fine dining restaurant. 

Runner-up: Rose Villa, Portland, Oregon.

Affordable Housing Winner

CityScape At Belmar, Lakewood, Colorado, senior housing design winner

CityScape At Belmar, Lakewood, Colorado. Designed by Studio Completiva for Metro West Housing Solutions. Photo courtesy of Senior Housing News.

CityScape At BelmarLakewood, Colorado (Denver metro)

CityScape At Belmar is a senior apartment complex in the heart of Lakewood, within walking distance of shopping and transportation. Designed with Baby Boomers in mind, CityScape offers fitness centers, a cultural theater, wireless internet, community garden beds, and a community kitchen and bistro. To be environmentally friendly, it also has recycling chutes on each floor and solar-power panels on the roof. Seventy percent of its units are reserved as affordable senior housing.

Runner-up: Monteverde Senior Apartments, Orinda, California (San Francisco Bay area).

Assisted Living Winner

Rosemark at Mayfair Park, Denver, Colorado, senior housing design winner

Rosemark at Mayfair Park, Denver, Colorado. Designed by Studio Completiva for Rosemark Mayfair LLC. Photo courtesy of Senior Housing News.

Rosemark at Mayfair ParkDenver, Colorado

Rosemark at Mayfair Park in Denver, Colorado, offers assisted living and memory care residences. Locally owned and managed, the community says it was designed with eco-friendly carpets and paints and senior-friendly furniture. Rosemark also boasts of an indoor-outdoor patio, with a two-sided fireplace, that opens onto a garden and fountain. You’ll even find a spa with a massage room.

Runners-up: Elan Southpark Meadows, Austin, Texas. Aegis of Queen Anne at Rodgers Park, Seattle, Washington.

Independent Living Winner

Overture Plano, Plano, Texas, senior housing design winner

Overture Plano, Plano, Texas. Designed by Hensley Lamkin Rachel Inc. for Greystar. Photo courtesy of Senior Housing News.

Overture Plano | Plano, Texas

Overture Plano offers contemporary 55+ apartments with 14 different floor plans, all featuring gourmet kitchens, walk-in closets, and wood flooring. Across 16,000 square feet of community space, residents will find a fitness center, yoga and art studios, a heated swimming pool, a cinema, a coffee bar, spa, and a demonstration chef’s kitchen. Even private wine lockers are available for independent living residents here.

Runner-up: Thames Edge at Fairview, Groton, Connecticut (Eastern CT area).

Stand Alone Memory Care Winner

Dogwood Memory Care Neighborhood, Bloomfield, Connecticut, senior housing design winner

Dogwood Memory Care Neighborhood, Bloomfield, Connecticut. Designed by Amenta Emma Architects for Duncaster Retirement Community.

Dogwood Memory Care NeighborhoodBloomfield, Connecticut (Central CT metro)

The Dogwood Memory Care Neighborhood, an addition to the Duncaster Retirement Community, is built in a unique V design that gives all 12 apartments floor-to-ceiling corner windows. Community dining and activity space is contained inside the V, with residences on the outside. The design maximizes natural light and outdoor views, its architect says, while offering interconnected interior spaces to encourage social interaction and independence.

Runner-up: Villagio Senior Living, Broomfield, Colorado.

Senior Housing Trend: Natural Light and Outdoors

The putting green at Hillcrest Country Estates, Papillion, Nebraska

The putting green at Hillcrest Country Estates, Papillion, Nebraska. Photo ©Brad Iwen, Iwen Exposures.

Argentum, a senior living trade association, also recognized five senior living communities in its 2016 Senior Living by Design Awards. These communities represent simple designs with natural light and clear views of the outdoors. Senior living residences have been looking for ways to bring the outdoors inside, Argentum notes, so residents can get closer to nature. The winners were:

Cedarbrook of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. This continuing care retirement community includes a 1950s-style diner with an ice cream parlor and children’s play area.

Hillcrest Country Estates, Papillion, Nebraska: This senior community added a “Rehab Cottage” to bridge its long-term care cottages and lodge apartments.

Dogwood Memory Care Neighborhood, Bloomfield, Connecticut: Architects used a 100-year-old oak tree as the central theme of this addition.

Rose Villa, Portland, Oregon: This community is designed like a small town with amenities that look and feel like individual businesses.

Autumn Leaves of Westover Hills, San Antonio, Texas: Focused on memory care, this community features a figure-eight design with enclosed courtyards to allow residents to stroll freely.

NAHB Best of 55+ Housing Awards

movie theater at Renaissance Luxury Living at Sun Lakes, Arizona, senior housing design winner

The movie theater at Renaissance Luxury Living at Sun Lakes, Arizona. Photo courtesy of Renaissance.

The National Association of Home Builders also recognizes 55+ housing annually. Its 2017 55+ Community of the Year is Renaissance Luxury Living at Sun Lakes, Arizona, which offers independent living, assisted living and memory care. Bathrooms in residences there have motion-sensor lighting, walk-in tubs and roll-in showers. Its movie theater is designed with walkers and wheelchairs in mind. View all the NAHB 55+ winners here.

This article was originally published on After55.com: The Best Senior Housing Design: Modern Architecture, Lots of Light

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After55.com is an all-inclusive senior housing and care search platform designed to connect seniors, family members and caregivers to tools, options and resources to assist in the senior housing and care search.



  1. Lydia Cruz says:
    All I want is affordable rent in a 55plus community/bldg………I don’t care for all the extras, bells and whistles, gym, pool, etc……….just a decent, quiet and affordable place to call home.
    • Hi Lydia, what city and state are you interested in moving to?

    • I agree with Lydia. My daughter insists that I move near her inVentura County, California, but I have been trying unsuccessfully to find affordable housing for  independent seniors 55+. Anything I have found is requiring her to cosign for me. I have taken very good care of myself for 67 years and I resent the way these choices are affecting me now. Baby boomers want to live on their own terms for as long as possible. But if you aren’t wealthy, that’s probably not going to be possible.

  2. Gloria Evans says:

    I anticipate retiring within a year and Iam looking for a 2 bdrm senior apartment in Spartanburg – Greenville SC for about $800-900 monthly. I have looking online for some time and have not found anything, can you help me with my search?

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