Johann Wolfgang von Goethe may have explained it best: “I call architecture frozen music.” Indeed, architecture is an art form that captures a moment in time. It has the capacity to stir emotions as overpowering as awe and disbelief, yet with a slight shift, can create confusion, disorientation, even anger.
If architecture is the music, it naturally follows that an architect is the composer. And like all good composers, Steve Zoerner, founder of Katus, an Austin-based architecture firm, has a sentimental attachment to his work. “The magnitude of what we do as a team is never lost on me,” he explained to Caddis Pulse.
It can hardly be considered a surprise, then, that Caddis Healthcare Real Estate forged a partnership with Katus several years ago. Both organizations share a commitment to providing exceptional housing and healthcare options to senior citizens. Katus, which means “pure” in Greek, approaches architecture from a holistic perspective. That is, buildings must provide value and functionality; yet they also must foster a sort of feng shui, a harmony that nurtures the unique needs of people with limited capacities.
With a tinge of emotion, Zoerner underscores this point by stating, “senior living architecture and development directly affects people’s lives with its form and function… As the architect, you are creating someone’s home. These buildings affect the residents every minute of their lives for years. These buildings are a community of residents where they comingle during meals and social events both inside, outside and even off campus.”
In a time when demand for healthcare real estate outpaces supply, these distinctions are especially significant. After all, it’s easy to neglect the humanity behind business decisions when business is thriving. And thriving it is.
According to the National Investment Center’s Investment Guide, there were 6,315 professionally managed assisted living communities in the U.S. with approximately 475,500 apartments. At the same time, forecasts estimate that the 75-and-older population will expand by 3.8 percent from 2016 to 2021. The 75 to 79 age group is expected to grow by 5.7 percent and the 80 to 84 age group is expected to grow by 3.8 percent from 2016 to 2021. All these age groups are expected to grow at a faster rate during 2016 to 2021 than they did from 2010 to 2016. They are also all expected to grow faster than current rates of inventory growth, which hovers at 3.1 percent.
In other words, Zoerner’s commitment to developing homes rather than mere buildings makes his company stand out.
All the same, it would be foolish to disregard the practical decision-making that goes into nurturing senior living facilities. It’s clear that the teams at Caddis and Katus both recognize the need to balance the requests of all stakeholders, such as investors and residents, when creating such homes — no small task for even the best of us.
“There are a tremendous amount of issues that are thought through and analyzed when a building of this magnitude is delivered from soup to nuts. There is location, operations, building function and space planning and financial. These buildings have to deliver to the resident, to the limited partnership that has been invested. The resident expects an excellent place to live and the investor expects an excellent return on their investment.”
With that, Katus delivers.
Taking cues from the hospitality industry, health care real estate is built to support the lifestyle needs of the residents. Everything about the design, furnishings and interiors of these homes is planned with the residents’ health and well being in mind. With unique spacial and financial constraints, however, this can be cumbersome.
Unlike in hotels, where guests usually spend 12 to 16 hours at most, senior homes must be all things to all people. They must deliver privacy and efficiency, and at the same time, they must promote a sense of belonging with efficiency, flexibility and functionality in mind. Katus prides itself on ensuring that all of their buildings meet state licensing standards and the mandatory National Fire Protection Agency requirements as well.
By building a partnership, Caddis and Katus form more than a linguistic interlude. Together, there is promise of music, of a cacophony set to disrupt senior living expectations. Together, they form an orchestra with pretty spectacular composers at the helm.