Healthy Buildings | Healthy People

In a new white paper, JSA interior designer Alyssa Garvey explores the development of the International Well Building Institute (WELL) and the impact WELL design can have on future projects.

WELL buildings

Wellness trends are everywhere...

The current trend towards sustainability and wellness has been making an appearance in industries all over the globe. Wellness buzzwords have become woven into our daily culture and wellness is easily acknowledged as both desirable and marketable.

There are guidelines.

In the architectural field, the development of the International Well Building Institute(WELL) is a response to this culture shift. The goal of WELL is to create healthy spaces by designing, constructing and operating buildings to maximize occupant health and productivity.

What does this all mean?

What will the next generation of buildings look like? Will you have a say about it? Read more here.

Alyssa Garvey is an interior designer at JSA Inc, headquartered in Portsmouth NH. Her understanding of the human impacts of lighting, materials, and programming results in healthier spaces for all.

Can we house seniors in buildings made of wood?

In a new white paper, JSA principal Christine Castaldo, AIA LEED AP looks at the latest IBC code updates for Assisted Living facilities.

IBC White Paper

Senior residents

When constructing buildings to house senior residents, concerns include how much physical effort the residents are expected to exert and how much stress they are expected to endure in the event of a fire.

But in Poland...

Many years ago, before I graduated from architecture school, I visited my cousin in Poland. In her crowded dormitory room, after a few beers, she and her fellow math majors asked, "Do you really live in a house made of wood?" They were worried about me and my answer did not alleviate their concerns.

How does this affect assisted living?

When a client recently asked if we could build the assisted living portion of the project with wood framing, I was reminded of that night in my cousin's crowded dormitory room. Can we house seniors who require assistance in a building made of wood? To answer that question, let's take a deep dive into the building code requirements.

There's ambiguity

The 2015 International Building Code (IBC), which is now being adopted by some states and municipalities, provides clarification...

Read the white paper.

Christine Castaldo, AIA, LEED AP is JSA's specialist in housing, both for senior living communities and for privatized military ventures. Her understanding of how buildings function results in projects with high operational integrity, bringing numerous repeat clients who rely on her expertise. She is an instructor of architecture in the Civil Technology program at the Thompson School of the University of New Hampshire and is a graduate of Pratt Institute.

'Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?' …like building codes?

Borrowing a line from New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast’s best selling graphic novel about aging seems as applicable to building codes as it is to aging parents. This Jim Warner white paper analyzes the impact of the 2015 International Building Code on assisted living facilities.

IBC White Paper

What is it?

The International Building Code is a code providing a template for design and construction, ensuring occupant health and safety.

Why is it relevant?

Buildings are defined or classified according their use because building uses vary widely. Similarly, safety requirements vary along with each individual use and are reflected in the application of the code to that specific use. Most uses are fairly straightforward with one very big exception: Assisted Living.

How will this affect you?

For those hoping to reduce construction costs there is some very good news: you can now build Assisted Living, including Memory Care, to a maximum of three floors with Protected Wood Construction, Type V-A. The drawback being under I-1, condition 2, corridor doors require a 20 minute rating and need to have closers, therefore the resident unit doors would not be allowed to be left open in Special Care. Additionally, compartmentalization requirements of an I-1 Use Group may limit some openness in household designed living, dining, kitchen spaces.

Where do we stand and what should we do?

Providers, developers, operators, architects, code officials and AHJ's alike need to become familiar with the new code as it will become law by the end of this year. The vast majority of Senior Living projects should fall neatly into either R-2 for Independent Living, where Aging-in-Place is not an option, or; I-1, Condition 2 for all Assisted Living including Memory Care or communities where Aging-in-Place is anticipated. But there is much confusion and a need for global clarification...

Read the white paper.

A founding principal of JSA, James Warner, FAIA has helped lead the company's evolution into a national firm, and established the Studio structure it maintains today. Directly involved in Healthcare, Hospitality, Housing and Senior Living, he has most recently led the Senior Living Studio to national prominence.

There are no slump tests when you mix concrete by hand with river water

Jay Haiti In October of 2016, JSA architect Jay Longtin traveled to Haiti as part of a volunteer building crew. In just seven days, he and a ten-member crew, with help from the local community, built a house for a Haitian family. Here, he tells his story:

I volunteered with the Fuller Center for Housing, an international, Christian nonprofit that builds and renovates houses in partnership with families in need. Homeowners work hand-in-hand with volunteers to build or renovate their homes, which they pay for on affordable terms, interest-free at no profit.

Our construction site was in Pignon, a town of 30,000 about five hours north of Port Au Prince, the capital of Haiti. Haiti, a Caribbean country that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, is still recovering from a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed 230,000 people in 2010. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% living in abject poverty.

As an architect, it was fascinating to build in a region so very different from the east coast of the United States. There are no slump tests when you mix concrete by hand, on the ground, with river water! Even with a bare minimum of tools and supplies, the construction went well. This family has a new concrete block house, a substantial improvement from their previous mud structure.

This was my first volunteer trip and I was not sure what to expect. I was concerned that I would feel uncomfortable with the religious nature of the organization, but there was no religious tension in this group. Would I do it again? I have to say yes, although I struggle with the inefficiency of flying eleven people (ten volunteers plus a team leader) to Haiti to perform manual labor. It felt more like cultural tourism than actual aid, but then again, not many people are willing to send money to a far away project, including me. All in all, a positive experience.

Jay Longtin, AIA is an architectect with JSA Inc in Portsmouth, NH. He specializes in environments for senior living.

JSA Logo


273 Corporate Drive
Suite 100
Portsmouth NH 03801



Back to top