For Steve Shields, managing partner of Liberty’s Norterre, the art its developers are collecting for the residence is more than just eye-candy.
Like the development’s park and the common exercise area that will be built alongside the living spaces, the art is critical to promoting wellness.
“(Art is) part of achieving well-being, like exercise and good diet,” Shields said in a phone interview.
Shields spoke a few weeks after Norterre’s call for visual art, which will be installed at the development as its built. Shields said the group already has collected at least 200 art pieces in a range of mediums. He expects to bring around 1,000 paintings, weavings, sculptures and other aesthetic creations when the development is done curating. A formal call for art ends Aug. 15.
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If all goes according to plan, the first phase of the development, a 160,000-square-foot initial phase on 17 acres adjacent to Liberty Hospital, will be open in the summer of 2017. It will have accommodations for those seeking assisted living and rehabilitation accommodations. The first phase includes short-term stay rehabilitation suites and a second phase will include housing built for residents of all ages, but the senior living facilities are of special interest for Shields.
“One of our central commitments is that we not only create this place of well-being, but a component of this project redefines how people age,” Shields said.
Since working at a Manhattan, Kan., retirement home, Shields has built a career of reimagining what spaces for seniors should or can look like. His work has often required breaks with conventional ideas, which he said tend to underplay seniors’ capacity to appreciate well-designed and useful living quarters.
Shields described traditional senior living design as creating “low sense of belonging and low sense of satisfaction.” But, he says, the industry is slowly beginning to embrace changes.
Shields has since founded senior living consultant group Action Pact, and is now the firm’s CEO.
At the Manhattan, Kan., retirement home, Shields wove art into the facility to tap seniors’ ability to appreciate style, color and texture. With the shift in design came a more welcoming atmosphere for both the residents and their visitors.
Action Pact’s decision to build Norterre as a home for all ages is counter to the long-held idea that seniors must live in a dedicated, sequestered space.
Liberty Hospital is one of the partners of Norterre. Mirroring Shield’s design interests, the healthcare center has worked to incorporate art into its own facilities. Hospitals have been working with programs to enhance their visual arts offerings since the 2000s, Liberty Hospital Director of Marketing Julie Simpson said.
The presence of art “allows the patient population to concentrate on something other than their injuries and escape what they’re going through,” Simpson said.
“Many, many studies have proven what we know for certain,” she said.
As Norterre builds its collection, the hospital will borrow works for display inside of public areas at Liberty Hospital.
Artists interested in submitting work for consideration can contact Jay Nelson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.