How Should Cities Prepare for an Aging Boomer Population?

CannonDesign’s plan for Jaypee Sports City features a continuous 10-mile park woven through a dense urban fabric of high- and low-rise developments. This entirely walkable parkland links all the city’s neighborhoods and social amenities. Image Courtesy of CannonDesign

Since the end of the Second World War, one of the biggest agents for social change has been the “Boomer” generation, those born in the postwar years who thanks to a spike in birth rates in those years represent a disproportionate amount of the population. But as this group ages, what will their effect on our cities be? In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “How Boomers Will Shape the Future of Our Cities,” principle at CannonDesign Peter Ellis outlines what his generation will need from the places they live as they get older.

I am an architect, and a designer of cities. I am also among the Boomer generation, the 65-year-plus demographic that, due to our increasing numbers, is creating a giant bubble at the upper end of the population charts.

We are not, however, aging like the generations that preceded us. “We will be able to give many people an extra decade of good health, based on what we are able to do in the lab now,” says Brian Kennedy, President and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, . The primary triggers for most disease can be controlled, enabling people to remain productive well into their eighties, nineties, and beyond.

How will this “revolution” in human longevity impact our cities? Unlike our parents, Boomers have not moved to retirement communities, preferring, rather, to stay as long as they are able in their urban neighborhoods—where they can continue to lead active lives.

Nassau Community College / Cannon Design

Courtesy of

Architects: Cannon Design
Location: Garden City, NY,
Project Designer: Ernesto Trindade, AIA, LEED AP
Project Manager: Andreas Hausler, Associate AIA, LEED AP
Project Architects: Tamako Ito, Mecayla Burns, AIA, LEED AP
Area: 73,000 sqft
Photographs: Courtesy of Cannon Design

653 10th Ave. Housing / Cannon Design

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Architects: Cannon Design
Location: , NY, USA
Project Manager: Andreas Hausler, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP
Project Designer: Ernesto Trindade, AIA, LEED AP
Photographs: Courtesy of Cannon Design

Welcome to the Wellness Center: A New Breed of Recreation Design

The Student Wellness & at Georgia College & State University. Image Courtesy of JWest Productions

Until recently, student health and counseling services have predominantly been offered independently of athletics and recreation. But as institutions contemplate a more unified approach to health and wellness, the boundaries of these traditionally separated campus services are becoming blurred. Many believe that unifying these various programs and services under one roof is in the best interest of their students’ long-term health, as well as a potential budgetary and operational boon.

This recent shift in mindset has supported the emergence of a new breed of recreation centers that is only anticipated to multiply. “We’re seeing more and more universities come to us with a new set of challenges and program needs, as opposed to simply saying ‘we need this type of building,” says Brad Lukanic, ’s executive director of education.

More on this new breed of Wellness Center, after the break…

St. Louis Public Library / Cannon Design

© Timothy Hursley

Architects: Cannon Design
Location: 1301 Olive Street, , MO 63103,
Design Principal: George Nikolajevich, FAIA
Year: 2012
Photographs: Timothy Hursley

Kaleida Health Gates Vascular Institute / Cannon Design

© K C Kratt

Architects: Cannon Design
Location: 100 High Street, Buffalo, NY 14203,
Design Principal: Mehrdad Yazdani, Associate
Area: 476000.0 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: K C Kratt, Bjorg Magnea Architectural & Interior, Thomas Mayer, Greg Meadows, Tim Wilkes

Indiana University Health / Cannon Design

© James Steinkamp

Architects: Cannon Design
Location: 355 West 16th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202,
Area: 270000.0 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: James Steinkamp , Christopher Barrett

Lansdowne Park Sports Center Proposal / Cannon Design


The redevelopment of the park, with the “Stadium in the Park” design concept, is an exciting urban design effort that encompasses a renovated stadium and arena, development of 300,000 sf of retail, renovation of heritage buildings, and an urban park for the people of . Designed by Cannon Design, the project enhances both the history and the identity of the park by taking advantage of its location on the Rideau Canal. The result is a stadium in the park. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Environmental Awareness Week, Hosted by Cannon Design

Courtesy of

From October 22-26, Cannon Design will host a prominent and diverse group of speakers to present at the Chicago firm’s 11th Annual Environmental Awareness Week. 

The event is a compilation of daily presentations, broadcast digitally for Cannon Design’s offices across the globe, about sustainable ideas that can/will impact our daily lives. Speakers include:

  • Cliff Majersik, Executive Director for the Institute for Market Transformation, responsible for research on building performance policy, energy codes, energy efficiency finance and green leasing.  
  • Charles Mann, Author of 1491 & 1493 (which examine how “the Columbian Exchange” marked the beginning of globalization and transformed China, Europe and much of the Americas) and regular correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, Science and Wired.
  • T. Luke Young, Architecture for Humanity, the organization which brings design, construction and development services where they are most critically needed. 
  • Ed Mazria, Founder of Architecture 2030, which has helped reshape national and international dialogue on climate change to incorporate building design and the “Building Sector.” 

Regional events will also be held at each of Cannon Design’s 15 offices on the 26th.

For more information on Environmental Awareness Week, as well as Cannon Design’s interviews with each of the speakers, check out their blog.

University of Arizona Medical Center South Campus / Cannon Design + CDG Architects

© Timothy Hursley

Architects: Cannon Design, CDG Architects
Location: Arizona,
Principal in Charge: Michael J. Smith
Project Director: Beth Radovanovich
Lead Designer: Carl Hampson
Project Manager: James Pricco
Photographs: Timothy Hursley, Bill Timmerman

University of California Riverside Student Recreation Center Expansion / Cannon Design

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Designed by Cannon Design, the expansion of the University of Riverside (UCR) Recreation Center will provide additional fitness and activity spaces integrating with the existing building and site creating a unified recreation complex. Located at the north boundary of the main campus within the natural Arroyo Zone, the design also includes views to the Box Springs Mountains to the east. The building is scheduled to open in 2014. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Novartis Research Complex / Cannon Design (Maya and Toshiko)

© Toshiko Mori Architect

Cannon Design recently announced that they are teaming up with Maya Lin and Toshiko Mori, FAIA to design a new, innovative research campus for Novartis, a global leader in the pharmaceutical industry. The new $600 million laboratory and office complex will serve as the centerpiece of the company’s worldwide research operations based in Cambridge, and change the way Novartis conducts research. Doing so will help in promoting increased collaboration, idea-sharing, and teamwork. The entire project is slated for completion in 2015. More images and architects’ description after the break.

4 Things Afghanistan Can Teach Us About Healthcare

Prototype outside of Kabul, Afghanistan / International Organization for Migration, USAID, and . Rendering by .

A few months ago, Deborah Sheehan, a Principal and Healthcare Leader at Cannon Design, was given the task of designing a prototype healthcare facility in Afghanistan, a country averaging about one hospital bed for every 2,400 people.

The challenges that Sheehan and her colleagues faced were considerable: limited construction materials, few skilled tradesmen, political corruption, tribal rivalries. But the resultant design solutions were smart, low-cost, and high-quality – they had to be, after all.

To a certain extent, Sheehan was expecting her team to come up with an innovative design; what she didn’t consider, however, was how applicable the design strategies would be to our own troubled system. In her article for HealthCare Design, Beautiful, Broken, and Broke,” Sheehan outlines the 4 things the Afghanistan healthcare system does well, frankly better than the American,  and what we could gain by applying them here…

Read after the break to find out the 4 design strategies employed in Afghanistan that could help our Healthcare System…

Jaypee Sports City / Cannon Design + Peter Ellis New Cities

Courtesy of Cannon Design + Peter Ellis New Cities

Cannon Design, a leading international architectural, engineering and planning firm, recently announced that it has joined forces with Peter Ellis New Cities, expanding the firm’s and city design practice. Currently, they have been working on a master plan for the new Sports City in , a comprehensive city plan for 1,000,000 inhabitants on 5,000 acres. Ellis and his New Delhi staff will be an integral part of Cannon Design’s planned expansion in while his U.S. based team has joined the firm’s office in Chicago. More images and architects’ description after the break.

California State University Student Recreation Center / Cannon Design

© Brad Feinknopf

Architects: Cannon Design
Location: Long Beach, , USA
Client: California State University, Long Beach
MEP Engineering: P2S Engineering
Civil Engineering: Breen Engineers
Landscape Engineers: Carter Romanek Landscape Architects
Project Year: 2010
Project Area: 109,000 sqf
Photographs: Brad Feinknopf

Los Angeles Mission College / Cannon Design

© Feinknopf Photography

Architects: Cannon Design
Location: , California,
Engineering: Integrated Engineering Consulting Engineers
Project area: 87,000 sqf
Photographs: Feinknopf Photography

Top 100 Architecture Firms

© Joe Pugliese

Architect Magazine‘s third-annual ranking of American architecture firms takes a look at three factors: profitability, sustainability, and design quality. This whole picture approach provides an opportunity for small and large firms to go head to head, with a result of the best architecture firms, not necessarily the biggest.

Some of these practices have been featured on ArchDaily like Perkins + Will, , Cannon Design, and .

Take a look at the complete rankings after the break.

Cannon Design Regional Offices / Cannon Design

© Architectural Imageworks, LLC

After standing vacant for nearly 30 years, the Municipal Power House building at 1100 Clark Avenue in downtown , opened as the new offices of Cannon Design in September 2008. In 2007, the firm purchased the 19,000 sqf building and provided all design, development, and construction management services for its restoration, renovation and adaptive reuse—an investment that represents the firm’s confidence in the future of the city of St. Louis.

Architect: Cannon Design
Location: St. Louis, Missouri,
Project Area: 32,000 sqf
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Architectural Imageworks, LLC, Patti Gabriel Photography