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Not familiar with the metaverse? It’s a virtual world where some believe people will spend time and buy real estate, somewhat like the video game The Sims.
MA’s first project in the virtual world involves creating a future space for the “active adult,” evaluating what Baby Boomers and Gen Xers will want by 2030, when most of them will be retired, said Mark Bryan, a senior interior designer with the firm who leads its innovation and research team.
The project, which is still in the early design phase, would allow MA to invite people worldwide to put on some sort of virtual reality headset and give feedback on the design and functionality of a space.
“People are visual,” Bryan said. “The metaverse takes it to that next level, we could have multiple users around the world looking at the design.”
Bryan said the metaverse will be accessible on tablets, phones, computers and through Oculus virtual reality headsets. Using it for this project will help the firm watch and learn how a desired audience interacts with a space.
“The metaverse can help us elevate design to be more human-centric,” Bryan said.
The project fits into a senior living segment that is already driving MA’s growth, said Russ Garber, director of the senior living studio and a newly promoted principal with the firm. Daniels said the firm grew 20% in 2021 and expects to see similar numbers for this year.
According to MA, in the last six years the senior living studio has completed more than 100 projects and grossed more than $12 million in architectural fees.
“People think of senior living just as sort of nursing homes or assisted living, but it’s so much more than that,” Garber said. “It encompasses everything from that true sort of high acuity product, but so much of it is swinging over to active adult communities and creating active, vibrant spaces for our seniors within urban environments.”
Daniels and Garber said senior living communities are increasingly expanding their offerings to fulfill a variety of needs for residents.
“You’re beginning to see these mixed-use developments where you’ve got live, work and play all together,” Garber said.
Since people are living longer, many want to take advantage of what Garber called the “fourth chapter” of life after retiring. Living in a mixed-use area is one way to get people of all ages living in the same place.
“What do you do with that time?” he said. “We’re looking at ways of integrating senior housing for purposeful living within these mixed-use developments.”