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What If Your Home Today Can Be Your Home Tomorrow? Forever.


Starting a family or preparing for retirement are large life transformations – ones that often involve the turmoil of changing homes, neighborhoods, and communities. But what if that wasn’t the case, and you could stay in your home and community, no matter what changes life throws your way?

That’s the ultimate goal of The AARP, AARP Foundation, Home Matters and Wells Fargo Re-defining Home: Home Today, Home Tomorrow design competition – we’re challenging architects, designers, and allied professionals to come together as interdisciplinary design teams to create new standards for housing in America that enable people to stay in their home as they travel through life’s various stages.

By leveraging universal design solutions to remodel an existing home located in Memphis, Tennessee, participating design teams will demonstrate attractive, adaptable, affordable, and replicable design elements that address and showcase livability by promoting aesthetic and functional designs for better living.


Coined by architect Ronald L. Mace, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, universal design embodies designing a built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life.

While the phrase “universal design” may conjure images of barrier-free design staples (like ramps and grab bars), that is not the goal of this design competition. The guiding principles of universal design go far beyond accessibility issues. Remaining essentially invisible in order to assist in a seamless transition between life stages, including entering the workforce, building a family, coping with an empty nest, and discovering new passions after retirement, universal design principles take into consideration the needs of its homeowner at every stage.

Jar Opener

When envisioning universal design, think OXO kitchen products versus grab-bars. OXO is a well-designed, well-known product line specifically founded on the philosophy of universal design, designing products for young and old, male and female, left- and right-handed, as well as those with special needs. With its debut of 15 kitchen tools in 1990, OXO set a new standard by creating effective, attractive tools that people of all ages and abilities were proud and eager to use. Now, that’s what we’re trying to achieve with the Re-defining Home: Home Today, Home Tomorrow design competition.

Are you ready to make the change in your own home? Easy-to-use, accessible, affordable products and services improve the quality of life of all citizens. But given a multitude of options, materials, evolving technologies and trends, how do you know what is right for your home and your family?

Involving an architect or designer at the earliest stage in project planning can allow for a better opportunity to analyze your needs, develop effective solutions, and propose ways to keep costs down. With a broad understanding of design and construction, an architect or designer can help guide you through the entire home renovation or building process, offer new ideas, and help you create your very own forever-home in the most efficient and effective manner.

This invaluable expertise and perspective that an architect or a designer contributes to the design and building process enriches how we experience the built environment and its connection to our everyday surroundings.

AIA San Francisco and its members are proud to partner on this important challenge. Our members from around the Bay Area are at the forefront of design and develop housing for all types of individuals and families. We’re looking forward to see what the architect and design community, and members of our 30+ partner organizations, develops for the competition. We know that the submissions will inform and improve our work here in San Francisco, and across the country, so that a home today can be a home tomorrow.

 This article is written by Jennifer Jones, Executive Director, AIA San Francisco

Photo Credits:

Young Family photo by Justin Horrocks
Can Opener photo by OXO


Home Matters is a movement that seeks to re-define Home and create a New American Dream.

Thank You!