Silver Lining

This essay in Harvard Design Magazine accompanies Tim Davis's photographs of NORCs in New York City.


Harvard Design Magazine

Project Team: 

Tobias Armborst, Daniel D'Oca, Georgeen Theodore


Tim Davis

The United States is getting old. In 1900, the country was home to an estimated 3.1 million adults aged 65 and older. Today, this population has swelled to over 40 million, and is projected to more than double by 2050. Where will all these seniors live?

For many developers, the coming “silver tsunami” is an opportunity to build more retirement communities; for them, the trend toward aging in place is merely an opportunity to build spaces closer to home. For many planners, the same trends underscore the urgency of New Urbanist principles, and offer an opportunity to plan walkable new neotraditional neighborhoods. And for many architects, these trends spell lucrative commissions for senior centers, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.

But what about the potentially less lucrative (and messier) business of adapting already built environments?

This essay accompanies photographs by Tim Davis that are a window into an initiative that does just that. The images depict NORCs (naturally occurring retirement communities) - buildings or developments with large senior populations that weren't intentionally built to be senior communities.


2017 Update: Silver Lining is featured in the XX Bienal de Arquitectura y Urbanismo in Valparaíso, Chile! More here.

thumbnail image by Tim Davis