KU student team named finalist in HUD Housing Competition – April 20, 2016

 KU student team named finalist in HUD Housing Competition
April 20, 2016

Lawrence – A team of multidisciplinary graduate students at the University of Kansas has been named to the Final Four in the national Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“Improving affordable housing is critical to HUD’s mission, which involves providing every American access to safe and stable housing. HUD has set up this competition to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes,” HUD secretary Julián Castro said in a statement. “We are trying to tap the talents of top young people across the country,” Castro said.

This year’s competition challenged students to redesign Monteria Village, a family housing development, for the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara, California. Submittals required both designs and a development pro forma utilizing HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) financing program. HUD flew finalists to visit the site in March and to HUD Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to present their final designs in April. In addition to KU, selected finalists included teams from Harvard University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Maryland. This is the second year in a row KU has been invited to the shortlisted group presenting in Washington.

The KU team includes Katie Beckwith (Perry, Kansas), Doug Dawson (Austin, TX), Ryan Lyssy (Lenexa, Kansas), Culin Thompson (Chicago, Illinois), and Colin Thomas (Baldwin City, Kansas). Associate Professor Joe Colistra is the faculty advisor. The team developed a solution that not only catered to the existing families on site but recognized the benefits of creating a project where older residents could thrive as well.

KU Team photo

01 team
Clockwise from top left: Doug Dawson, Ryan Lyssy, Colin Thomas, Katie Beckwith, and Culin Thompson.

The solution balances increased density with open spaces that allow for social connectivity, exercise areas, playgrounds, and a community garden. The addition of senior housing to the project creates an inclusive community where young families could utilize the support network an intergenerational neighborhood affords.

Monteria Village site context
Monteria Village Site

Interspersed with family units, the senior prototype units were designed to meet accessibility codes and universal design standards. They also proposed technology-rich health and wellness strategies such as:

Motion Sensors/Fall Detection Motion sensors can be used to not only detect when someone is in need of assistance after a fall but video capture and rewind functions can assist care providers in determining what caused the fall, whether the subject hit his or her head, and what factors in the living environment may have contributed to the fall. Data can be collected over time to monitor activity, but more importantly, advances in predictive algorithms can allow the system to “learn” about the typical activities of a resident and to sense irregularities that may be a cause for concern.

Gait-Analysis and the Built Environment Both active (wearable) and passive (camera) sensors collect data on stride and body movements and detect imperceptible dysfunction and deterioration in coordination and balance. Advances in predictive algorithms can determine early stages of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. This can allow for earlier treatment and monitoring of a resident. Data collected by force-plates in the floor structure monitor sway and balance over time and can be used to predict and prevent falls.

Smart Toilets Disorientation brought on by dehydration is a leading cause of falls. Smart Toilet technology can collect data on hydration, blood in the urinary tract, blood pressure, and heart rate. This newer generation of technology-enhanced toilets can collect the necessary data that can alert care providers and physicians of potential problems.

Smart Environments for Geriatric Pharmaceuticals Automated medicine dispensers assist in regulating a patient’s dosage schedule. Voice-assist units remind residents when to take their medication. It also reminds them when a scheduled dose has already been taken. One example of the potential networking of these technologies is found in the dispensing of diuretics. Often taken in combination with heart and blood pressure medication, diuretics allow the body to expel unneeded water and salt through urine allowing the heart to work more efficiently. An automated medicine dispenser networked to data collection from a smart toilet would allow for real time adjustment and monitoring of hydration levels and diuretics.

Sleep Sensing Older Americans often suffer from inadequate sleep. Many need to get up to go to the bathroom more frequently. They may also suffer from reduced levels of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep. Bed sensors utilizing hydraulic monitoring provide a balistocardiogram enabling the collection of data on heart rate, respiration, and restlessness.

Automated LED Smart-Spectrum Lighting The gradual yellowing of the lenses in our eyes brought on by aging can filter out a significant portion of blue light that helps to regulate the body’s circadian rhythms that balance the release of melatonin in the evening and cortisol in the morning. The resulting imbalance is believed to play a major role in many of the conditions one associates with aging: memory loss, slower reaction time, insomnia, and even depression. Smart mirrors that can monitor a number of health-related conditions (including skin abnormalities, tooth plaque build-up, eye-tracking dysfunction) also meter lens yellowing. This data can be used to color-correct ambient light through LED lighting technology and provide custom lighting spectrum therapy.

These health and wellness strategies are monitored at an on-site Living Lab and Family Opportunity Center. In addition to community center functions, the facility includes a state-of-the-art research facility that can monitor resident health and wellbeing. Students mapped nearby research institutions and proposed partnerships with universities that could leverage grant funding and other institutional resources. The Housing Authority is able to subsidize advanced technology by securing above-market rents for the lab space.

The team proposes that many of the telehealth systems qualify for Chronic Care Management Vouchers under the Affordable Care Act introducing an innovative new potential funding stream for affordable housing that is health and wellness-centered. This increased revenue also supports the innovative sustainability strategies that allow the complex to operate at net-zero energy. The facility utilizes both passive and active sustainable features such as shading devices, cross ventilation, photovoltaics, on-site water collection and filtration, home automation systems, and ground source heat pumps. The team also proposed unit configurations that lend themselves to prefabrication. Super-insulated wall panels are shipped to site with a fluid applied vapor barrier allowing the building envelope to meet stringent Passive House energy standards.

Monteria Village unit
Monteria Village Unit
Posted in Highway to Tomorrow Blog

New Buildings for Older People: Silver Architecture & Design

An article titled “New Buildings for Older People” was published in the New York Times on Nov. 1, 2014.  The author, Louise Aronson, is a geriatrician in San Francisco who also makes house calls for her patients. Dr. Aronson states that the house calls are necessary not because her clients are confined to their homes but because the health care facilities are too difficult for her patients to navigate safely. Dr. Aronson wrote this article in response to the difficulties she faces when trying to take her father to just about any place around town, not just his doctor visits.  Dr. Aronson suggests the next movement in architecture and design should be “Silver” architecture.  The design features she suggests be incorporated into “Silver” architecture are not “novel”, they are just common sense.  A few of the features she suggests are well-lit, wide open spaces that accommodate people walking side-by-side, decrease noise and overstimulation, and opportunities for rest with appropriate seating along regular intervals. This is a great read for anyone interested in a built environment that is safe and enjoyable for all of us at anytime in our lives.    New Buildings for Older People     

Posted in Highway to Tomorrow Blog

i70 Corridor Conference on Aging Schedule

I-70 Corridor Network on Aging Conference
Tiger Hotel, Columbia, MO
November 13-14, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014
Noon Lunch Short introduction by the participants
1:30 pm Short walk to MU Eldertech lab for tour and demos
3 pm Bus to TigerPlace for tour and discussion 
5 pm Bus return to Tiger Hotel
5:30 pm Reception at Tiger Hotel
6:30-8 pm Dinner at Tiger Hotel Keynote speaker
8 pm Time for informal discussion and put up posters.

Participants are invited to submit an abstract and bring a poster to share (3’x4′ maximum).

Friday, November 14, 2014
7:30-8:30 am Breakfast buffet
8:30-10:30 am Open time for informal networking Poster session
10:30 am Keynote speaker – Russ Waitman, KU. PCORI project: HERON Discussion of synergies between HERON and I-70 Corridor Network
Noon Lunch Update on New Cities 2.0 and Campus Village at KU
1:30 pm Discussion on goals for next year& experiences from September sessions in KC and St. Louis
3 pm End

Posted in Highway to Tomorrow Blog


Grandma’s adoration for her grandkid’s was obvious to the world. She was always your biggest fan. I remember my baseball games growing up. I tried so hard to be “cool” and “tough” at the plate, but admittedly that’s hard to do when Grandma is screaming “GO DREW!”; I pretended not to notice of course, but I secretly loved the cheers. I also remember how the other players on the team liked it so much that they wanted her to call out their numbers, and of course she did. She seemed to make every event that any of us were involved in, and she was always the first person I looked for in the crowd.

I remember most how she marveled at every little thing I did, no matter how trivial, and how much confidence that gave me. Grandma has always been supportive. I could always talk to Grandma about anything. She and I would have long conversations about stuff I was uncomfortable talking to anyone else about. I always came away with a clear vision and reassured when our talks were over. She had a way of challenging you with what you already knew and making you take action on it. She even played a big role in my asking my wife Marci to marry me (thank you Grandma). She loved Marci almost as much as I do.

I was blessed to have Grandma in my life, as was every person she touched. She was a constant source of joy, support and love. Her guidance and influence have shaped my foundation, and I will carry her wisdom and love with me always. I am fortunate to have had her play such a large role in my life, and I am proud to be her grandson.

As I continue to celebrate the life of this amazing woman, I keep this in mind. The best way to carry on the legacy that Grandma has left behind…the best way to celebrate the life of Martha Waller… is love those around you so much that they never can forget.

—Andy Belval

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