Sothea Cheney, Project Architect and Technical Manager at Market Square Architects, has been named a Future Leader for 2022 by Senior Housing News.
To become future leaders, individuals are nominated by their peers. Candidates must be high-performing employees 40 years of age or younger, passionate employees who know how to put their vision into action, advocates for seniors, and dedicated professionals who ensure their well-being.
Cheyney sat down with Senior Housing News to talk about his career trajectory and his views on the evolution of the industry, including the need for more on-site and integrated clinical services.
What attracted you to this industry?
I love a lot of math and science and art and architecture, it’s a combination of all three.
And I don’t like talking to people because I like other things. So even though I talk to people a lot for work, I love it.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you started working in the industry?
residents’ needs. Designing for older adults is a challenge. There are parts of the design process that I would not have thought of before.
This includes the operation of the building. How operators work and how they need to work with seniors. So I learned how to make it easier for both residents and operators.
If you could change one thing and look at the future of old age, what would it be?
thought process. Even though we are designing for seniors, I feel that a lot of people in their senior living design limit the space for residents to move – limit their physical activity. I don’t think designers should limit this at all.
I still play tennis with people in their 80s. They are still playing tennis. They like to move around. Not all seniors are the same; some enjoy gardening like a work of art, and some enjoy golf.I think [designers] Limit these activities.
For example, one of my clients wanted a kimchi ballpark because a lot of older people were getting into kimchi. I’m very excited about this.
Looking ahead to 2023, how do you think the senior living industry will be different?
Prioritize healthy exercise and a relationship with nature. I think more and more designers, operators and industries are starting to think about physical activity.
And I think a lot of older people are more active these days, they’re more aware of their health earlier in the aging process. So, we are now designing more physical activity. That means more fitness centers, more swimming pools, etc.
We’ve also added elements that incorporate nature, such as outdoor gardening, and, depending on the climate, plan more indoor planting and gardening.
In short, how would you describe the future of old age?