DFA Initiatives

Learn about the AIA/DFA past initiatives under History.


Design for Aging continues to advocate for, and actively participate in, initiatives to promote change to regulations that negatively impact the design of environments for older adults. Our participation in multiple task forces has created direct, positive outcomes on senior living and care environments as well as dialog between care providers, designers and regulators.

To date, regulatory task force work has resulted in updates to the Life Safety Code to allow for more residential and home like environments. Task force efforts have led to the creation of a separate Facilities Guidelines Institute document for residential care and living facilities, recognizing the unique requirements of resident centered care design. Investigation is currently underway to provide data to support the recommendations of the ADA task force regarding supplemental guidelines for the design of toileting and bathing facilities.

The Design for Aging Knowledge Community participates in multiple task forces, sponsored by the Rothschild Foundation:

        •  To address the unique acoustical needs of elders and to define, develop and
           disseminate a single set of uniform, national, code-level criteria

        •  To develop a set of low vision standards for the design and operational
            procedures for new and existing buildings in the U.S.

        •  To develop supplemental guidelines to ADA that provide supportive layouts
            for assisted toileting and bathing for elders in Nursing and Assisted Living Homes

For more information, go to : http://www.therothschildfoundation.us/projects/category-1/

Next Generation

 The Next Generation subcommittee is focused on engaging students and intern architects by introducing them to the many opportunities in designing for an aging population. Past initiatives included student competitions focused on urban, intergenerational projects judged by the same jury as the Design for Aging Review and subsequently published in the monograph. Current initiatives include engaging students through conferences and a sponsored studio at a university focused on design for aging. This studio will spend an entire semester working on in-depth research and a senior living project. Expertise and resources including published post occupancy evaluations from the DFA will be shared with the students throughout the semester. 


Post Occupancy Evaluations (POEs)

Post occupancy evaluations (POEs) Toolkit is a step by step booklet developed by the AIA Design for Aging that explains POEs, why we do them, the type we do for the AIA and a description of how to do them; there is even a check list for those who want it. The POE Toolkit walks through the processes for data collection and analysis, interviews, on-site observations, graphics and images. The purpose of POEs is to evaluate what design features work well, which do not, and provides the foundation for evidence-based design. Download the Tool Kit.  

Design for Aging Review (DFAR)

The DFAR program includes a juried exhibition, a companion book, and education programs. The program encompasses a broad view of facilities designed for senior citizens, including nursing homes, dementia care, assisted living, and continuing care retirement communities.

It seeks not only to demonstrate architectural design trends and recognize excellence but also to serve as a reference for providers, developers, users, advocates, architects, and other design professionals in this growing market. Since the competition began in 1992, more than 300 facilities, domestic and international, have participated in the review.

Component Overview

Design for Aging expands locally in cities throughout the country 

While Design for Aging, a Knowledge Community of the American Institute of Architects is a 3,000 member national organization based in Washington, DC, only a handful of members actually ever come face to face, but this is rapidly changing.  Design for Aging has emerged in major metropolitan areas across the country represented by local AIA Components.  Typically they meet monthly exploring a wide range of topics reaching a much broader constituency than experienced in the past. 

National conferences where DFA maintains a strong presence such as the LeadingAge (formerly American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging) and Environments for Aging tend to attract a limited number of principals, partners and key staff members representing DFA.  To the contrary, many if not most local DFA Committee attendees are rank and file staff, students and individuals with a passion for improving the lives of seniors through design,   who otherwise might not participate at the national level.  Since meetings are held monthly in multiple locations, DFA’s influence is reaching deeper into the design, development and operations of all aspects of Senior Living. 

For more information on component activities including past, current and future programs or if you are interested in joining an existing committee feel free to contact any of the local committee chairs.  Should you be interested in starting a Design for Aging Committee in your area, contact David Banta,AIA

Insights and Innovation

Insights and innovation is an initiative to evaluate and report on the substantial data collected from the Design for Aging Review, a bi-annual design competition. Beginning with the 9th cycle in 2008, data has been collected on a diverse range of distinguished senior living and care facilities located in the United States and internationally.