Photo courtesy of Boston Properties University

This post is part of a series on the September 2015 presentation of Boston Properties University at the Broad Institute at MIT. Click here for Part I and Part II in the series, and stay tuned for more!

Part III: Demographics

Dr. Joseph Coughlin, Director of MIT’s AgeLab told us that “the future is gray, it is delayed, it is small, and it is female.” There are fewer babies being born, the population is getting older, living longer, doing things later in life, and there are more women. These interesting and subtle variations are going to have a huge impact on how we work and live in the future as this population is not going to be leaving the workforce until much later in life, if at all, and has a whole different set of needs, both at home and at work.

Designing and building spaces for a multi-generational workforce is going to be a new challenge as we could potentially see five-generations working at the same time. A huge question for us is how we design to meet their needs. Right now, the largest growing segments of workforce are the millennials, but those over 60 are living longer and not necessarily leaving the work force. Millennials want cool, open spaces and aren’t afraid to ask for the perks they want, while baby boomers are used to having a corner office as a designation of success.

As an architect, designing single spaces for multiple generations is very interesting and very hard. Among the questions we have to answer: if the space we make reflects our values, and different generations have different values, how do we reconcile that? We’re working through that in our projects with the US Military’s Healthy Base Initiative and in the adaptive reuse projects we’ve been working on, though there is no single answer; we’ll keep you posted!

Continue to Part IV…

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