It was a chilly 34 degrees in Dallas the weekend of January 9. Fourteen long-term care professionals from across the country converged on the corporate offices of Buckner Retirement Services in downtown Dallas. They were there to judge the entries in this year’s DESIGN 2010 competition, sponsored by Long-Term Living, The Society for the Advancement of Gerontological Environments, The Center for Health Design, and the American Society of Interior Designers. I was there to meet, greet, conduct our annual roundtable, and otherwise help where needed. I also learned a lot. The weekend was an amazing experience of witnessing selflessness, cooperation, extreme attention to detail, and how professionals of like interests can help and support each other and the industry that is their vocation and, in many cases, their avocation as well.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard from the judges, “I’m so glad I did this. I learned so much,” and “This was a fabulous experience.” This coming from people who gave up their weekend to fly or drive to Dallas, sit in a conference room, and carefully read 40 multipage submissions with extreme attention to every detail. One could tell from the vibe in the room how excited some of the judges got when they saw a design aspect that was really innovative or different.

After reading through all the entries, the judges then reconvened from their break-out groups to judge the Citation of Merit winners and the Honorable Mentions. More discussion and some firm, but good-natured arguments, some who wanted to reread the submission, others who wanted to see the floor plans or photos. Details, details, details. Our judges immersed themselves in the details of the projects spending a great deal of time to make sure every entry received a thorough review.

Because of this attention to detail, there is a wealth of great ideas in the pages you are about to read in DESIGN 2010. These projects are the best of the best. My suggestion is to read the magazine cover to cover. Our roundtable discussion will give you a heads-up on the common threads as well as the “broken threads” the judges saw in the entries as well as trends. The Citation of Merit articles written by the editors of Long-Term Living give an in-depth view of the actual winning properties and the forward-thinking design elements that made them stand out from all the rest. “Obstacles and Solutions” discuss some design challenges that entrants had to overcome during the design and construction phases of the project. Read about other great ideas in the Honorable Mentions section. We chose certain aspects of some entries that revealed ingenuity and excellent design sense to highlight in this section.

And the whole process started on a chilly Saturday in Dallas. What did I learn? That I was in the midst of a brain trust of design and long-term care professionals willing to share their time, ideas, and constructive criticism with each other and the entrants in DESIGN 2010. It gave me a good feeling about this industry that 14 individuals would be willing to be so generous in interacting among themselves and with our readers to support the cause of “good design,” which in turn supports resident-centered care. And isn’t that what it’s all about? D

Maureen Hrehocik, Editor Design Environments for Aging 2010 2010 March;():6