Congratulations, Rebecca Soja!
SAGE is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2021 David A. Green Memorial Award. This award provides a first-time EFA-conference attendee with an Environments for Aging Conference Experience, including travel, lodging, EFA Conference registration and related expenses as well as networking opportunities with SAGE thought leaders.
The selection committee, made up of Vernita Green (David’s wife), Maggie Calkins, David Soens, Skip Gregory, Andrew Alden, Rob Simonetti, Mitch Elliott, and Addie Abushousheh, all knew and worked with David Green–one of the founding members of SAGE who was instrumental in creating the major principals that guide it today–and were pleased to play a role in honoring his legacy. “I think David would be thrilled to know that the David Green Memorial Award monies are being used to create an EFA experience for someone interested in serving older adults–to get them embedded in the EFA experience and the SAGE experience,” said Andrew.
Congratulations to the 2021 award recipient, Rebecca Soja, an Architectural Designer and Researcher / Job Captain with HKS, Inc. When asked what inspired her passion in environments for older adults, Rebecca answered, “A few years ago, there was an exhibit at the National Building Museum called Making Room: Housing for a Changing America. It highlighted how today’s housing market remains fixated on the needs of traditional, nuclear families, even though most of the population doesn’t fit that mold – our nation’s housing stock is not reflecting or evolving with changing demographics or lifestyles. Perhaps the most powerful part of the exhibit was the “Open House”, a 1,000 SF interactive prototype meeting the needs of multiple household models through thoughtful design incorporating space-saving strategies, smart technologies, movable walls, universal/accessible features for aging-in-place, and multifunctional furniture. Exploring the full-scale mock-up was a lot of fun and it tangibly demonstrated the possibilities of what the future of housing can be, not only from a spatial or structural perspective of ‘right-sizing’, but also from the perspective of utility, flexibility, psychosocial or cultural contexts.”
She adds, “Although several influences have inspired my interest in environments for older adults (for example, my twin sister serving a geriatric population as an Occupational Therapist in rural South Dakota, or attending a lecture by Matthias Hollwich, author of the book, New Aging, or empathy from visiting my own loved ones at assisted living facilities or my mother’s rapid onset of arthritis), this is one of the most vivid memories I have that truly shifted my thinking. It caused me to question the conventions of the building industry and instead propose how I, as a designer, could design my own future environments, the places and spaces in which I am, and will continue, to age. This experience opened my eyes to the continuum of life phases and how our seniors are not a ‘them’, they are a future version of ourselves. We don’t have to settle for the institutional nursing homes or fear getting older. We have options, and a lot of them.”