AARP and the National Association of Home Builders announce the winners of the fourth annual Livable Communities Awards. What is a livable community? True livability starts inside the home, with design features that allow people of all ages and physical abilities to live comfortably and safely. Livable homes also are environmentally friendly, lower maintenance and adaptable in ways that permit owners to reconfigure spaces as needed without a great deal of disruption or expense.
Livable communities incorporate homes with these features, are near shopping and entertainment, and often encompass common spaces where residents can easily meet and mingle. This competition recognizes architects, builders, developers and remodelers who have built projects exemplifying these design principles and values. See below for tours of the winning single-family homes and multifamily housing developments.
BURNS HARBOR, IND.
This single-family house, designed and built in 2010 by Treasure Homes Inc., mixes universal design features with green building practices. It is certified at the Emerald level of the National Green Building Standard. The combination of accessibility, low maintenance and energy-saving features makes the design truly livable.
For years, Juliette and Dennis Mason had managed well in their home, despite Dennis' confinement to a wheelchair. When they decided to eliminate some of the challenges Dennis faced in the poorly accessible master bathroom, the couple consulted with Dean Johnson of Green Construction Services Inc., who helped them reconfigure the space in 2010.
The owners of this home asked CAPS interior designer Jeannine Clark of Mannigan Design Inc. to adapt the spaces so they could age comfortably in place there after they retired. The house — near a large hospital and within walking distance to shops and public transportation — was perfect for the purpose.
Daybreak (pictured) is an intergenerational cohousing development designed by Schemata Workshop Inc. in the Overlook neighborhood of North Portland. The close-in urban location means public transportation, grocery stores, restaurants and cafés, and schools are all easily accessible. Values that shaped the design include fostering multigenerational living and integrating with the surrounding neighborhood.
SANTA FE, N.M.
ElderGrace is a cohousing development for low- and middle-income people 55 and older. It was designed through a partnership between its resident members and the nonprofit Santa Fe Community Housing Trust. A Common House gives residents plenty of opportunities to meet up. The 3.5-acre site provides shared outdoor spaces, including walking and biking paths and a community garden and orchard, all within a quarter-mile of public transportation to downtown Santa Fe, just five miles away.