By David Zuckerman. The National Center for Seniors Housing Research awarded University of Arizona architecture student Travis Bunt first place in its annual Aging In Place design competition. This year's contest challenged students to design a senior-friendly community on an existing 10-acre urban site.

Bunt placed an assisted living complex in downtown Tucson, Ariz. He incorporated building types found in surrounding neighborhoods, winning the judges' praise for his attention to architectural context.

The design, Bunt says, provides residents with services and security in an environment free of the dehumanizing institutional trappings common to such communities. "I wanted to design something that didn't feel like the last step before death," Bunt says.

The floor plans of the units provide privacy but offer ample opportunity for social interaction. Each adjacent space incrementally increases or decreases the frequency of interpersonal contact. Private rooms are positioned near the formal entry. The public rooms lead to a semi-private patio that opens onto a public courtyard, providing a "soft transition" between the home and the greater community.

Travis Bunt

Bunt won the judges' praise for basing his structure types on those in surrounding neighborhoods. The traditional Mexican row houses found in Tucson's historic Barrio Libre inspired Bunt's row house design. Working from historical precedent, Bunt's row houses surround a central courtyard and include corner units that offer shared amenities. Street entries help integrate the complex into the surrounding neighborhoods.