University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
School of Architecture College of Design

Goldstein Museum Gallery, McNeal Hall, St. Paul Campus

Smart House, Livable Community, Your Future

February 5 - May 22, 2011

Opening Reception: Friday, February 4, 6-8 PM

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 quoted in the Wall Street Journal (9/19/09) 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?   Housing 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 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 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 will look 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 1960s 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, scoot 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 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.

Information about Smart House's sponsors and advisory board are available here.


Contact Information

Goldstein Museum of Design

364 McNeal Hall,

1985 Buford Ave, St. Paul, MN 55108

P: 612-624-7434 |

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