Ground Breaks on Southern California Community Designed for 21st-Century Seniors

Long Beach, Calif.–Work has gotten underway on the Long Beach Senior Arts Colony, a 200-residence affordable housing community in Long Beach, Calif.

By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Long Beach, Calif.–Work has gotten underway on the Long Beach Senior Arts Colony, a 200-residence affordable housing community in Long Beach, Calif., designed by architectural firm Studio One Eleven to tailor to the demands of today’s seniors.

SAC, under development by Meta Housing Corp., will encompass a 161-unit colony and a 39-unit arts annex on a nearly two-acre site at the bustling intersection of Anaheim St. and Long Beach Blvd., about 25 miles south of Los Angeles. The central theme of the apartment community, which will be reserved for those over 55 and earning between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income, is the nurturing of mind, body and spirit.

“The demographic we’re designing for is no longer the World War II-era generation, who usually enjoyed more conservative architecture,” Michael Bohn, principal with Studio One Eleven, tells MHN. “Baby boomers want to feel useful in a useful building, and they want modern architecture.”

SAC is a unique style of the new seniors housing model. It is geared toward those with a passion for the arts, from professional artists to those who simply desire to live in an artistic environment. Studio One Eleven designed the property to appeal specifically to this segment of the seniors population. Amenities will include an arts education center, a gallery and performance space.

“We didn’t want to create a ‘crewcut’ building,” Bohn says. “We didn’t want it to be the same height everywhere. In Europe, wider streets have taller buildings, and the more intimate streets have lower buildings. It’s about scale, so the heights on Anaheim, which is wider and busier, are higher. We also wanted to respect the neighborhood, weave the design of the building into its surroundings.”

The artistic theme prevails throughout the property, “We’re using a lot of natural materials, wood;  there’s a lot of light maple. And we’ve designed the building to maximize natural light to make the rooms feel more spacious. Also, we’re using warm colors instead of just whites. It’s an artists’ colony so we wanted it to feel warm, but we also wanted it to inspire the residents, so we also incorporate fun colors.”

The design concept has proved successful for Studio One Eleven in the past. “It’s such an artistic environment with an intensive program that those who aren’t involved in the arts get drawn in,” Bohn says.

SAC is on track to reach completion in December 2012.