The United States is fast becoming a nation of the elderly. According to recent U.S. Census data, there are more than 43 million people in the United States aged 65 or older, and their ranks are likely to swell to more than 70 million by 2030, and steadily rise until the current senior population more than doubles in 2050. Increases in the number of older Americans will have an unprecedented impact on the types of housing needed and created in the coming years. Independent living, assisted living, nursing homes and Alzheimer care facilities are all growing markets. And there is an important role for concrete masonry construction to play in these markets.
Masonry Plays a Number of Roles in Senior Housing
Concrete masonry has a number of advantages for senior housing, many unrivaled by other materials. It is affordable, attractive, noncombustible, secure and durable. Developers and designers around the country are beginning to take greater notice of these qualities.
Concrete masonry is an adaptable material that is compatible with diverse architectural styles. Color choices, sizes, and various architectural finishes are some of the aesthetic qualities, as is the ability to create many patterns. In addition to an architectural finish, concrete masonry can provide a structural system, fire resistance, acoustic isolation, and a building envelope that meets strict code requirements. Concrete block can also serve as both exterior and interior wall finish material, meeting economic and aesthetic design goals. In addition to standard and architectural block, special concrete masonry units have been developed for a variety of specific purposes—a few notable ones include ease of construction, improved thermal envelopes and enhanced acoustic performance. By varying unit size, mortar joints and color, there are many opportunities to create unique patterns on concrete block buildings.