I am an architect, and a designer of cities. I am also among the Boomer generation, the 65-year-plus demographic that, due to our increasing numbers, is creating a giant bubble at the upper end of the population charts.
We are not, however, aging like the generations that preceded us. “We will be able to give many people an extra decade of good health, based on what we are able to do in the lab now,” says Brian Kennedy, President and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California. The primary triggers for most disease can be controlled, enabling people to remain productive well into their eighties, nineties, and beyond.
How will this “revolution” in human longevity impact our cities? Unlike our parents, Boomers have not moved to retirement communities, preferring, rather, to stay as long as they are able in their urban neighborhoods—where they can continue to lead active lives.
The quality of our lives depends, of course, on more than the latest advances in biomedical research. We now understand that our physical environment and our behavior are the root cause of many of our chronic diseases. This growing awareness underlines our demand for sustainable communities, which support an active and healthy lifestyle. My generation wants to remain physically active, and therefore gravitates to walkable neighborhoods with a broad mix of amenities connected by a network of pedestrian and bicycle paths. ….