Category Archives: Interior Design

Mohawk Group’s New NYC Showroom Embraces Wellness

The light-filled showroom incorporates several elements of the WELL Building Standard. Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Mohawk Group.

Mohawk Group recently unveiled their brand-new showroom in NYC. Located in a former textile factory in historic Chelsea, the 13,000-square-foot space was designed by Gensler and incorporates LEED and WELL Building Standard qualifications, fully expressing Mohawk’s company ethos: Believe in better.

Open layout space, the education lab, and a meeting room in Mohawk’s Chelsea showroom. Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Mohawk Group.

“Coming from our manufacturing and textile background, this building really spoke to us,” explains Jackie Dettmar, VP of commercial design and product development. “It feels like this is home. It’s part of our history and part of Mohawk.”

The Gensler-design sales cubes are designed to be versatile and engaging. Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Mohawk Group.

Flooded with natural light, the showroom embraces an open plan with inviting work and meeting spaces, versatile product displays, a working sample library, a materials education lab, and an open area for events and training. Herbs and other flora sit in simple planters along the window, exemplifying the company’s commitment to biophilia and healthy design.

The Pantry reflects the values embodied in the new WELL Standard. Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Mohawk Group.

Interior Design editor in chief Cindy Allen took a tour of the space on Facebook. “It seems to me that these days projects have to be functional, beautiful, technical, sustainable, and now with WELL, good for the people working there,” she said. “When I’m walking through this space, I feel really good.”

Experience the full tour below:

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NYCxDESIGN Awards 2018 Celebrates City’s Best at Pier 17


Eight hundred guests gathered at Pier 17 on Monday night to celebrate the winners of the third NYCxDESIGN Awards, presented by Interior Design and ICFF. NYCxDESIGN, an annual celebration of product and project design homegrown in New York City and its boroughs, has been going strong for five years and the awards ceremony only continues to grow with the city-sponsored design event.

Interior Design editor in chief Cindy Allen hosted the 2018 NYCxDESIGN Awards. Photography by Erik Bardin.

Interior Design editor in chief Cindy Allen hosted the event, which received product and project entries from over 24 different countries and all five boroughs.

“We launched the NYCxDESIGN Awards to celebrate our beloved city and showcase New York City’s best and brightest that are literally bursting from every borough,” proclaimed Cindy. “Giving these awards is the biggest joy in my life, but having to select just one winner out of all these excellent submissions is my nightmare.”

The Lladró Guest overlooking the East River. Photography by Erik Bardin.

The evening started with product winners, which included design objects from Luceplan, Baxter, and Sony Electronics. Project winners included Gensler, Parts & Labor, and Rockwell Group. For the second year, the student product design category received over 100 submissions, all generously underwritten by NYCxDESIGN. Winners received the now iconic Llardró Guest figurine.

The jovial vibe of the night was best summarized by ICFF director Kevin O’Keefe. “The first year we did this, we filled the MoMA. The second year we did it, we had a waitlist,” said O’Keefe. “These awards have taken on a life of their own, and they highlight one simple truth: New York City is the design capital of the world.”

Pier 17. Photography by Erik Bardin.

The event was made possible by our sponsors.

View the slideshow to see highlights from the event >

View the full list of winners and honorees >

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Peter Marino Delves Into Italian History to Renovate Bulgari New York

PROJECT NAME Bulgari New York
FIRM Peter Marino Architect
SQ. FT. 4,500 SQF

Since 1989, Bulgari has been an ipso facto New York landmark. Its two floors of Italian jewelry and luxury goods have occupied Warren & Wetmore’s 1921 Crown Building on a prime corner in Midtown, keeping company with Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels. But last year, it was time for a refresh.

Think Bulgari, and visions of the brand’s centuries-long heritage in gold, silver, and gems comes to mind. You may also conjure sunny images of the Eternal City, with its terra cotta–toned facades, and thoughts of Elizabeth Taylor and Rome’s Cinecittà, considered the hub of Italian cinema. In other words, la dolce vita. To translate that inimitable glamour architecturally, the company turned to Peter Marino.

The Interior Design Hall of Fame member’s connection with Bulgari began six years with Peter Marino Architect’s renovation of the flagship in Rome, where the company was founded in 1884 and is headquartered today. Then came PMA’s re-envisioning of the London store in 2016. All the while, at the behest of new owners LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Marino was developing a design language to burnish the brand’s identity, much of which is carried through all three stores. But since both the Italy and U.K. projects were in landmarked buildings, the firm was precluded from exterior interventions. Manhattan was another story, however. There, Marino could tell a tale of continuity and innovation both inside and out. “New York is a younger and more modern city,” he begins.

LEDs concealed in the bronze grillwork turn on at night. Photography by Manolo Yllera.

“I’m a complete bronze freak,” admits Marino, who is an avid collector of Baroque and Renaissance bronzes and a creator of sculptural boxes cast in the ancient alloy. It’s a passion he shares with classical Rome, where bronze was the metal of choice. In Marino’s hands, it became the basis for elaborate grillwork throughout.

Outside, bronze crisscrosses the double-height windows on two elevations, creating “a level of transparency that’s quite a new concept,” the architect notes. “Most jewelers are walled against the day.” The motif—diagonal rhomboids with rosette corners—is derived from an archival sketch for a Bulgari brooch, sadly never created.

For the 4,500-square-foot interior, more bronze screens surround the new statement stairway up to the balustrade along the rebuilt mezzanine. Their matching geometry has deeper historical roots: Its pattern is borrowed from that on the floor of the Pantheon, an intervention Marino had devised for the Rome and London stores.

In the jewelry salon, the pair of chandeliers were originally designed in 1964 by Gio Ponti for the Parco dei Principi Hotel in Rome. Photography by Manolo Yllera.

The same goes for other design elements throughout. For instance, since Bulgari is quintessentially Italian, Marino again looked to the country’s modernist architecture and furnishings for inspiration. For furniture and lighting, he dove into the postwar period, examining work by Gio Ponti, Piero Portaluppi, and Carlo Scarpa. In fact, several of the era’s signature pieces are here. A ’50’s Osvaldo Borsani table in pink marble and mahogany, for example, functions as a display surface in the main jewelry salon, where the central vitrines are anchored by massive bronze bases. A pair of Ponti’s exuberant chandeliers, also bronze, hang from the shallow vault around the salon’s 18-foot ceiling.

Materiality, color, and historicism have been carried through, as well. For materials, Marino homes in on pietra, “classic Italian marbles and rare stones, to be exact,” he states. Here, there are five varieties, their colors and vibrant veining an opulent mainstay of the densely layered palette. Pavonazzetto, or Italian marble, pervades downstairs in columns and stair treads, while Breccia di Stazzema, another Italian marble, appears on the exterior and interior portals. Twinkling red porphyry trims the gleaming marble mosaic floor, inset with a single eight-pointed star at the entry, while white Thassos marble borders it.

“Yellow, orange, red. I hadn’t done a store with those colors before,” Marino continues. “For me, it’s stepping out”—into the light of a Roman summer afternoon, as it were. He’s referring to the apricot silk lining the display niches, another gesture spearheaded in the Rome flagship. He has not only repeated it in New York but also built upon it. In the mezzanine lounge, also known as Maison Bulgari, a silk blend in the same color upholsters the sectional sofa, its silhouette inspired by Borsani originals.

Stair treads are Italian marble. Photography by Manolo Yllera.

That lounge functions as an event space or, with its separate VIP room, a private sales area. But here’s one of the ways the New York store differs from Rome and London—and, actually, most other jewelry stores: The high-end pieces are not cloistered away in off-limit rooms. Customers and tourists alike can gape at five- and six-figure jewelry and watches right up front. Toward the back, the flooring changes to Italian walnut, a warm backdrop for the selling of bridal and other accessories such as Bulgari fragrances.

Undoubtedly, the setting is glorious. And of course, glamorous. Taylor, arguably the epitome of glamour and Bulgari’s most famous client, is memorialized with a commissioned artwork by Campagnolo & Biondo. Andy Warhol, who coordinated a meeting between the actress and this architect when he had them both to his Montauk compound in the ’70’s, may have been as enamored of oversize gems as the movie star, creating a series of screen prints to prove it. One of them hangs in the store between the niches showcasing watches.

Another purely New York characteristic of this project is Marino’s representation of the city’s energy. It’s apparent on the exterior grillwork: At dusk, LEDs behind each rosette pulse in changing patterns. “Between the neighboring high-end stores, Bulgari wins.” Italian glamour and American pizzazz—now that’s an unbeatable combination.

Marble mosaic flooring is inset with a porphyry star at the entrance. Photography by Manolo Yllera.

Project Team: Frank Spadaro; Alex Lavecchia; Luis Gonzalez; Joseamid Martinez-Cosme: Peter Marino Architect. Design Republic: Architect of Record. Luce5; Metis: Lighting Consultants. Eckersley O’callaghan; Robert Silman Associates Structural Engineers: Structural Engineers. Rosini Engineering: MEP. Sice Previt: Metalwork. Damiani Marmi: Stonework. L’Artigiano: Plaster Workshop. Michilli: General Contractor.

Product Sources: Through Nilufar: Chandeliers (Jewelry Salon). Green Allestimenti: Custom vitrines. Margaritelli: Wood flooring.

See more from the April issue of Interior Design

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Hightower Brings Playful and Practical Design to the Workplace

Gimbal Low Back Rocker, featured in Madrona leather from Hightower and shown with Ribbon Table. Photography courtesy of Hightower.

The digital revolution has significantly and forever altered the way people conduct business and the way designers approach workplace design. The challenge remains: how to provide flexibility, comfort, support, and good aesthetics in today’s office. Interior designers not only need to find ingenious solutions that enable clients to keep pace with the increasing velocity of the digital revolution, but they must also discover ways to slow things down and inject beauty into their projects.

Four Cast’2 Wood Chairs with Teton table, Focus Privacy Screens, and Nest Chairs and Nest Side Tables. Photography courtesy of Hightower.

Hightower’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection aims to do just that, with a series of chairs, sofas, tables, benches, and sound-absorbing modular wall and ceiling treatments that elevate the workplace. The pièce de résistance is the Gimbal Lounge Rocker, designed by Justin Champaign, founder and principal designer of California-based studio Most Modest. Capable of both rocking and swiveling, the Gimbal provides release and comfort, allowing longer durations of seated, focused work to take place. In addition to a low-back option, a high-back version creates a refuge in public space by offering increased privacy and some sound-absorption capabilities.

Breck Round Table and Pill Bench with ash tops and upholstered in Maharam-Kvadrat Mode, shown with Timber Wall Panels. Photography courtesy of Hightower.

“The speed at which people are working today is quickening at such a rapid rate that it creates a fun challenge for designers,” Champaign says. “We have to account for this even at the concept development stage, working swiftly to provide relevant solutions that solve today’s problems and evolve to solve tomorrow’s, as well. I think the Gimbal, created for Hightower, does that quite well.”

The Breck Benches and Ribbon Tables, also designed by Champaign for Hightower, are simple and sturdy. Multiple sizes, heights, and finishes create the possibility for flexible and productive workspaces.

“The collection is simple and fun, but so thoughtful at the same time. To me, that is Hightower,” says co-founder Natalie Hartkopf.

Breck XL Round Table and Pill Bench with walnut tops and upholstered in Camira Main Line Flax. Photography courtesy of Hightower.

Hightower’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection includes Scandinavia-based designers Form Us With Love, GamFratesi, and Zilenzio.

Continue reading Hightower Brings Playful and Practical Design to the Workplace

On the Move: V Starr Interiors Fills Two Leadership Roles

SofA building in Delray Beach, FL. Image courtesy of V Starr Interiors.

V Starr Interiors

Two leadership roles at V Starr Interiors, a Florida-based design firm led by Venus Williams, have been filled as part of the firm’s growth. Sonya Haffey has been promoted to vice president, while Holly Caswell Nixon has been hired as design director. Haffey has been a firm leader for almost 10 years, and has helped transition the firm from exclusively residential to include commercial projects. Caswell Nixon has 12 years of hospitality work in several countries, including her native United Kingdom.


Dauphin has added two regional sales managers: Roger Vasseur for the Southeast and Peter Sullivan in the Midwest. Vasseur formerly worked at Humanscale and most recently Exemplis, and will be based in Houston. Sullivan previously worked with Interface and Mohawk Group.


Stephen Beacham has relocated from HOK’s Philadelphia office to Washington, D.C., where he will be principal and director of design for interiors. He will lead the D.C. office with Vincent Ng, director of interiors. Beacham joined HOK at the Philadelphia office in 2015.

Rowland and Broughton

Two team members at Rowland and Broughton, Amanda Christianson and Mark Bever, have passed the Architect Registration Examination in Colorado, bringing the total number of licensed architects at R+B to 15. Christianson is the director of operations, executive team member, and studio leader for the Denver studio, and has over a decade of experience in architecture and project management. Bever has been a team member in the Denver studio since 2014.

Dick Clark + Associates

Austin-based firm Dick Clark + Associates has named Mark Vornberg, Kim Power, and Kevin Gallaugher partners. Vornberg has also been named principal. All three new partners are long-time senior associates at the firm.

James Welling, 8183, 2016 from the series Chicago, 2016-2017 for the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Image courtesy of the Artist and David Zwirner, New York/London.


Chicago Architecture Biennial

Curator and educator Sepake Angiama and architect and urbanist Paulo Tavares have joined artistic director Yesomi Umolu on the curatorial team for the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Both newly announced co-curators have international research-based practices and will play a key role in directing the theme and programming for the next Biennial.


Lok Yoon has joined the Buildings practice at Philadelphia’s Stantecoffice as senior associate. Yoon has nearly 35 years of industry experience as a mechanical engineer, and his innovative approaches to energy efficiency have earned many of his projects LEED Gold and Platinum certification. He will lead the MEP teams on a range of project types.


Chris Townsend has joined HLW as senior associate in Madison, New Jersey. Townsend has 20 years of architectural experience across a range of project scales and types. He also has experience managing corporate interiors projects in New Jersey.

California College of the Arts

Keith Krumweide has been appointed dean of architecture at the California College of the Arts. Krumweide was named a Rome Prize fellow in 2017 for his investigation of the origins of the suburban house on the Italian peninsula. He previously served as director of the graduate architecture programs at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and as assistant dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University.


Contract furniture manufacturer KI has completed a transition to an employee stock ownership plan, meaning that the company is 100% owned by its over 2000 employees.


Dayna Fucarino has joined Havwoods International as the company’s first North American marketing manager for their New York City showroom. Fucarino has over seven years of experience in design marketing and brand management, including as integrated marketing manager for Interior Design.

Continue reading On the Move: V Starr Interiors Fills Two Leadership Roles


posted on 05/09/2018
By Kadie Yale

It was an honor for me to be asked to moderate a panel on May 8 during Coverings’ annual show alongside James Wheeler, principal designer of J. Wheeler Designs; Elisa Gangone, NCIDQ, associate at ai3; and Gary Inman, vice president of hospitality at Baskervill. The talk, Seamless Design with Tile and Stone: Residential to Commercial and Back Again, looked at the influences of residential and commercial projects on each other (focusing primarily on hospitality), and the ways in which stone and tile fit into the mix.

It was a fascinating conversation, so I wanted to share a few keypoints with our readers:


While there are still many hospitality companies who want to create a sense of familiarity no matter the locale, individuality and uniqueness are becoming driving factors in hospitality design. Celebrating the neighborhood and communities where they reside, hotels are looking to portray a lifestyle, one where the local sightseeing doesn’t end the moment you step into the lobby. Inman pointed out that millennials—those born between 1982 and 2004—are driving this trend because they tend to value experiences over things, and lifestyle brands not only provide a continual experience, but also fall into the general price point of millennial lodgers.

Advancements in Technology Allows For Grandeous Designs

The same desire for individuality is appearing in residential design as well. Wheeler pointed out that while a client may be more reserved about pushing the boundaries within their primary home, he’s seeing a lot of vacation or second homes that are designed to celebrate the surrounding community. This makes sense: homes are often the place of residence because of work or family obligations, but vacation or second homes are spaces that are bought because the owner loves to spend time in that place. Similar to hospitality, the reminder that you’re out of your normal habitat seeps into the interior design of these homes.


It’s no surprise that the hospitality sector is feeling the waves companies like AirBNB are creating. Both Gangone and Inman stated that such companies are changing the ways in which hotels provide services. However, Gangone brought up an interesting comparison when she said that AirBNB is like any chain: there will be die-hard fans who only use the service in the same way that there are people who will only stay in a Hilton.

Dimensional Tile Is Interesting Yet Durable in This Bar Setting
Dimensional Tile Is Interesting Yet Durable in This Bar Setting

Regardless, hotels are looking to AirBNB to inform some of their decisions on providing the best local experience for their guests. One interesting point that was brought up, though, is that hoteliers are concerned about how AirBNB can operate like a hotel service without the same standards and codes that hotels have to adhere to. So hotels are looking to provide the same home-like feeling and comfort with the added benefit of security and safety.

Resimercial‘: Why We Need a Better Term

Fun Pops of Color Add A Unique Element3. PORCELAIN HAS ELEVATED ITS STATUS

While porcelain may not have been seen as the choice material in the past, advancements in technology have allowed it to fit into any interior and mimic just about any surface. Inman called porcelain a “savior” in that it provides a wide variety of textures, such as textile patterns, which couldn’t be used otherwise. Gangone stated that new porcelain tiles are capable of giving designers and end users the look they want at a price point and durability standard they need. She pointed out that while she would always love to use natural materials, porcelain doesn’t require the upkeep nor does it stain easily, so it often finds its way into projects where a natural look is desired. Wheeler said that the manufacturing side of the industry is working smarter, so that even small budgets can install a “really special” design.

Natural Stone Used As Focal Point4. STONE IS BEING USED AS WORKS OF ART

The expansion of porcelain doesn’t mean stone is going away, however. Following a couple of questions which insinuated that the panel believed porcelain in many ways has pushed stone aside, all three were adamant that stone still has a very special place in design. Particularly for clients who want to use natural stone but need the durability and price of other materials, select pieces are being used as a focal point in both hotels and residential projects, as well as for specialty products such as lighting fixtures and furniture pieces. A jaw-dropping display of natural stone in the bathroom or as the focal point of a room turns the space into a luxury experience. Where price allows, stone is still being specified.

There is one project type where porcelain just won’t cut it—Inman said historic architecture being remodeled or renovated should be done with natural materials, which would pay homage to the original design.

Innovative Shapes Provide Unique Design Possibilities


Perkins+Will’s Director of Interior Design on Creating Agile Workplaces

Design veteran Brent Capron sits down with Metropolis to discuss workplace trends, the firm’s in-house research, and the significance of NeoCon.

Brent Capron Perkins Will

As Perkins+Will’s New York director of interior design, Brent Capron leads creative processes behind the firm’s workplace projects and cultivates client relationships across the Northeast. The Colorado native has over 20 years of design experience in corporate interiors on both the East and the West Coasts, including an award-winning design for Westfield North America’s Los Angeles headquarters. Metropolis editor-in-chief Avinash Rajagopal sat down with Capron to discuss the social roots of workplace design, the importance of studying the client and breaking down boundaries between siloed practices, and NeoCon’s long-standing cultural role.

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Bright Ideas for Designing with Plants

Plants can provide a healthy and calming addition to the kitchen or bath – and with the right planning and coordination, they can provide an equally healthy addition to your profitability.

Continue reading Bright Ideas for Designing with Plants

How Biophilic Design Helps Bancroft’s Autistic Students

How Biophilic Design Helps Bancroft’s Autistic Students

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — Connecting students to the natural world can prove therapeutic, especially to those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This is where biophilic design can make a positive impact on students’ experience and why it was the guiding philosophy behind the recently opened 80-acre, $75 million, New Jersey-based Raymond and Joanne Welsh Bancroft Mount Laurel campus.

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Convergence Point: Senior Living Design Inspires Acute Care

By Pamela Tabar | April 25, 2018

Set within a burgeoning “senior living city” of more than 110,000 residents over age 55 (projected to grow to 140,000 in the next five years), The Villages Regional Hospital in The Villages, Fla., is one of the nation’s few hospitals built specifically for an older patient population. Its unique demographics—and the design elements employed there—provide deep lessons for the industry on what environment works best to support care delivery to seniors. For example, light sources were selected that reduce glare and hotspots that challenge the aging eye, while acoustical features are integrated throughout to combat noise and better accomodate those experiencing hearing loss.

While The Villages is an unusual market, most hospitals around the country are seeing a rapid uptick in senior patients, especially in their emergency departments (EDs). Thanks to the baby boomer generation, the surge in the over-65 population won’t begin to taper off until at least 2029, according to the U.S. Census. Faced with this reality, healthcare organizations are grappling with how to create acute care spaces that answer the personal and clinical needs of older adults. As such, they’re turning to the senior living industry for lessons and finding that meeting the needs of seniors is no longer just about ADA compliance or safety.

“Hospitals need to pay careful attention to what design firms are doing in the senior living market and bring those lessons into the acute care setting, including addressing issues of patient vision or hearing and seniors’ ultra-sensitivity to noise,” says Sam Burnette, principal at ESa(Earl Swensson Associates; Nashville, Tenn.), which served as the architect on The Villages project. Seniors also communicate and respond differently to the care environment, which requires specialized solutions, adds Jane Rohde, founder and president of JSR Associates(Catonsville, Md.) and an expert in senior care and design.

By considering such characteristics and looking at spaces through the eyes of an older patient, owners and their project teams can better identify appropriate, senior-friendly designs that will ensure hospital settings are primed for baby boomers’ arrival. From the front door to the inpatient unit, experts offer solutions to consider.

The arrival
From the overall layout of a campus to the design of the main entrance, there are many ways to reduce seniors’ stress before they’ve entered the hospital. Wayfinding must begin in the parking lot, Burnette says, with parking areas clearly indicating where ADA-compliant ramps are located. Lot signage should be easy to read at night and include clear navigation that complements hospital-provided patient information.

To ease the way for those who use assistive devices, stairs between parking lots and adjacent buildings should be avoided and benches should be located along sidewalks to provide opportunities for rest.

A human encounter at the building entry is ideal, too, says Tom Bauman, interior designer at ESa who worked on The Villages project. “Good signage is important, but seniors really want a person to greet them and be available to answer questions or help them navigate to the right location.” A greeter station provides an immediate opportunity for patients to ask questions, but it’s important to keep the footprint to a minimum and not to set it behind an imposing glass panel, which can prohibit the up-close-and-personal approach that seniors desire, he adds.

Senior acute care is often a uniquely “family affair,” where family members who are part of the older person’s care team will expect to be involved in the process, says Jason Harper, principal at Perkins Eastman (New York). “Senior-friendly settings need social and family support to be built into the environment.” For example, he says, waiting rooms should feel as homelike as possible with special focus on seating, lighting, and acoustics. “Hospitals can feel alien and add to an older patient’s disorientation and agitation.”

Seating is another crucial element to consider. Bauman suggests arranging seats in small clusters and avoiding “bus station seating” in long rows, which can impede communication for those with hearing loss. Chairs should be comfortable yet have sturdy arms to accommodate elderly visitors who may have difficulty with the deep cushions of a couch.

To answer the critical need for access to daylight to reduce stress, aid in healing, and maintain circadian rhythm, designers at The Villages added visitor day rooms at the ends of department corridors that feature abundant windows. If natural light isn’t available, table lamps, wall sconces or cove lighting in warm hues can help brighten spaces. Indirect, evenly distributed lighting is best, says Amy Carpenter, senior designer and vice president at SFCS(Blue Bell, Pa.). “It’s very important to avoid track lighting or anything where you can see the light source, because the glare can be very painful to older eyes that take longer to adjust to different light levels. Severe glare can even cause agitation in those with

Emergency department
The majority of hospital visits for those over the age of 65 originate in the ED, making it one of the most important spaces to adapt to become more senior friendly. Everything from a squeaky gurney wheel to beeping medical devices can agitate an already nervous senior patient, so reducing noise should be a priority. Acoustic ceiling tiles are an obvious choice to help reduce sound levels, and while many hospitals have ditched overhead paging systems in favor of muted or personalized communication devices, moving the staff’s primary traffic pathways away from seating areas can also help reduce noise levels, Bauman says.

Inpatient units
Within patient rooms and bathrooms, ease of movement is crucial for the senior patient, so flooring transitions should be minimal to avoid tripping hazards due to canes, IV poles, walkers, or unsteady feet. Lowering or removing the step-over barrier in showers is also ideal. Contrasting the colors of the toilet and bathroom wall also can help an older patient with orientation, since older eyes have trouble discerning between similar colored surfaces—especially white, which is the least discernable color for aging eyes. “The ADA-compliant grab bars may be in place, but lack of contrast in finishes and materials isn’t a good idea for seniors,” says Peter Bohan, principal at Perspectus Architecture (Cleveland).

Safety isn’t the only concern when it comes to design details, Rohde adds: “Older patients can react in adverse ways to bold patterns, especially if dementia is in the mix.” Dark, solid blocks of flooring can appear as “holes” to a person with cognitive issues, while high-gloss or shiny tiles can look like water. Age-friendly flooring choices include smooth transitions and tonal patterns. Color and themes are also effective solutions to assist with navigation to specific care departments.

Sharing cross-team lessons
As acute care environments grapple with changing patient demographics, the more cross-team learning between senior living design and acute care design, the better, designers say. “It’s about looking back and forth across the acute care and senior living spectrums and comparing the valuable notes,” Bohan says. “With the demographic shift in the aging population, hospitals are being forced to think harder about what it takes to engage geriatric patients from a design standpoint. The needs of the older patient demographic are at the focus of the design process more than ever.”

Pamela Tabar is a senior care writer based in Medina, Ohio. She can be reached at

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