Sothea Cheney, Project Architect and Chief Technology Officer at Market Square Architects, has been named a 2022 Future Leader by Senior Housing News.
To become a future leader, a person is nominated by his peers. The candidate must be a high-performing employee aged 40 or under, a passionate worker who knows how to put his vision into action, an advocate for seniors and committed professionals who care about their well-being.
Cheyney sat down with Senior Housing News to talk about his career trajectory and how he sees the industry changing, including the need for more comprehensive, on-site clinical services.
What attracted you to this industry?
I really like math and science as well as art and architecture, which is a combination of these three things.
And I didn’t like talking to people as much as I liked these other things. So, even though I often talk with people for my work, I like it.
What is your biggest lesson learned since you started working in this industry?
The needs of the inhabitants. Designing for senior residents is a bit of a challenge. There are parts of the design process that I wouldn’t have thought of before.
This includes building operations. How operators work and how they should work with seniors. So I learned to make it much easier for residents and operators.
If you could change one thing for the future of retirement homes, what would it be?
The thought process. Even though we’re designing for seniors, I feel like a lot of people in their senior living designs will limit the activity spaces for the residents – limit them to physical activities. I don’t think designers should limit this at all.
I still play tennis with octogenarians. They still play tennis. They like to move. And not all seniors are the same; some like gardening to be like a work of art and some like to play golf. I think [designers] limit such activities.
For example, one of my clients wanted a pickleball court because a lot of seniors are starting to play pickleball. I was very excited about it.
In your opinion, what will be different in the sector of residences for the elderly by 2023?
Prioritize healthy movement and a relationship with nature. I think more and more designers, operators and industry are starting to think about physical activity.
And I think a lot of older people are now more active and health conscious earlier in the aging process. So we’re designing for a lot more physical activity now. This means more fitness centers, more swimming pools, etc.
We are also adding elements that incorporate nature such as outdoor gardening and, depending on the climate, a lot more planning for indoor growing and gardening.
In a nutshell, how would you describe the future of senior living?