Drawing Together with Seniors to Create a Community.

At Highlands Crossing, the first Senior Cooperative housing developed in Arkansas with CDC Bentonville/Bella Vista and NCB|Capital Impact, the word 'cooperative' is more than a financial or social term; it inspired the method that allowed us to include the residents into the design process.


We began with a charrette in which the design team worked with a group of 50 couples who were interested in purchasing a cooperative apartment. In the first meeting we distributed construction paper and asked the seniors to draw 'what they wanted most in the new building'. The drawing exercise took many seniors out of their comfort zones.


The results were enlightening to the entire development team. As a result of this process, we created 59 individual homes and a community. The unexpected lesson to us was discovering the power of drawing together with the residents. Having them share their visions with one another led us all to a deeper appreciation of one another and to the creation of new friendships for the residents. One participant was a retired architect who carefully illustrated his hopes for the common areas. Below are some of the 50 drawings made by the residents and development team.