Welcome to New Cities,
an interdisciplinary initiative on aging and the built environment at the University of Kansas.
In 2010 real estate developer Lee Foster posed the question, “What kind of residential housing and life style will baby boomers want when they retire?” His question was timely because 10,000 boomers turn sixty-five every day now. Boomers, by their sheer numbers, have changed the norm for every age they have passed through and no doubt will change the norm for our post-career lives, too. But what do they want?
with his granddaughter, Pippi Simpson.
(Photo by Oz Wille)
Our investigation has led to colloquia, seminars, classes, and design studios at KU. We have published New Cities, a book of students’ designs for intergenerational housing and post-career homeplaces. We established the Boomer Futures Think Tank featuring leading authorities on gerontology, demographics, sociology, psychology, health care, environmental studies, law, architecture, design, transportation, and engineering.
We tap the knowledge of business people who are developing products and services at an astounding rate in response to a growing market driven by boomers' needs and expectations.
We work closely with the City of Lawrence and Douglas County, Kansas, toward creation of Campus Village, a new intergenerational community that will not only meet boomers’ retirement needs, but also attract all age groups. We also support Eastside Village Lawrence, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping East Lawrence residents age in place with support of neighbors.
What have we learned about boomers and their residential choices, should they move from their current homes? They want to be close to nature. They want walkable cities and good public transportation. They reject the idea of age segregation, and want to be close to their children, grandchildren, and friends. They want affordable housing with progressive architecture and barrier-free design. They like to use technology and want a learning community. Weather is not as important to them as the climate of a place. They want to serve their communities and mentor youth. They support sustainable communities. They want to leave a legacy and live meaningful lives.
Those who participate in and contribute to this initiative are too numerous to mention in this brief welcome, but if you explore our web pages, you will meet them. Please send us your thoughts.
Project Director, New Cities Initiative