A New Housing Concept on N Williams Aims to Change How Some Portlanders Age

The 70-unit Canyons building is all about aging in place—and staying out of the nursing home.

By Emily Davis June 14, 2018

A rendering of the Canyons

Aging may be a fact of life, but finding a comfortable environment for it, unfortunately, is not. That may change soon, however.

Located on North Williams, the Canyons is a new housing concept designed to promote aging in place, and to keep seniors out of nursing homes. A joint venture between PATH Architecture, Tokyo-based Hoosiers Corporation, and Portland-based developer Kaiser Group Inc, the 70-unit, 110,000-square-foot building—which already has a waitlist—aims to allow seniors to maintain their independence in a safer and more affordable way.

“Understandably, people want to live as long as they can in their single-family homes,” says Ben Kaiser, owner of the Kaiser Group. “Often the problem with those homes is that there are stairs [and other barriers]. A big reason why seniors end up in nursing care facilities is because they have fallen and hurt themselves. Unfortunately, these injuries accelerate the aging process. When I say aging in place, I mean a barrier-free, active living facility that discreetly adapts to the needs of the residents."

Expected to be completed in December 2019, the Canyons won’t force its residents to use any stairs, and kitchens will feature adjustable countertops for anyone in a wheelchair. There will also be a partially open-air, Japanese-style alley running through the building that will play home to 11 storefronts, from senior services to small businesses to artisan workspaces. This communal area, open to the general public as well as residents, encourages active living and a sense of community, the developers claim, as does the location—across from a New Seasons Market and on a major urban transit corridor.

Like another recent project by PATH and Kaiser nearby—the luxury residential building Carbon12—the Canyons will use cross-laminated timber construction. Kaiser and his partners also plan to include a Montessori nursery school on the first floor, one in which the residents can contribute and participate.

“It gives an opportunity for the elderly to help, to either donate time or work at the nursery school,” Kaiser says. “They are able to bring all their years of expertise of being teachers, doctors, educators, or even just parents. It creates a multigenerational existence in the building.”

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