Tag Archives: Blueroof Experimental Cottage

Navigating

Oh, a storm is threat’ning/ My very life today/ If I don’t get some shelter/Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away/

–“Gimme Shelter” by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

The site has two central parts:

I. The theme

II. Digressions (anything not related directly to the theme; for the purpose of the site my daughters Joanna and Amelia [you may ask “You really regard your family as a digression?), my stories, essays, career achievements, poems, and other flights of fancy and whimsy are off message.

Now and then being a nerd, as I am, can get in the way or as the Tibetan Book of the Dead notes sometimes you (by which I mean I) become so intense that the intensity becomes “intense pride, and the pride turns into an ice-cold environment which reinforced by self –satisfaction begins to get into the system. It does not allow us to dance or smile or hear the music.” At the risk of not hearing the music, I will leave you, dear reader, to find order in Diversions as you will. Right now, the task at hand is the order the theme.

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Navigating the theme: No shelter from the storm

  1. Where do I want to go?

To a neighborhood which must be developed to serve as a global model for providing independent living so elderly and disabled individuals can age in place.

  1. What would the neighborhood consist of?

a)      It would consist of an experimental residence for an individual or an individual family. The example of the Blueroof Experimental Cottage in McKeesport, PA is a good example. The cottage consists of a one story residence built on inexpensive land in a downtown burned out section of town where rotting buildings could be razed and a community developed.

b)      The individual residence could be built out of factory housing (the fashionable term for mobile home) where sensors and other off-the-shelf technology can be embedded in the walls to monitor and protect the resident. Including building the foundation, each residence can be constructed in three days.

c)      Technology in the residence would include:

  • Security system to protect elderly and disabled residents in high-crime areas such as exist throughout the Rust Belt of Pennsylvania—where the neighborhood would gradually change to a family friendly area attracting economic growth.
  • Motion detectors to monitor falls throughout the residence, especially high risk areas such as the shower.
  • Computer voice simulation which combined with a wireless communication system can have, in effect, the walls of the building calling family or other emergency services for help.
  • Monitoring devices to detect, for example, whether the refrigerator has been opened and to call for help after an adjusted period of time. Example of a computer generated call, “Hello, your grandmother has not opened her refrigerator in over 24 hours. You might want to look in on her.”
  • Remote medical monitoring, including taking blood pressure and other health measurements and transmitting the results automatically to a physician’s office.
Blueroof”s trial pill dispenser which monitors whether the resident has taken each required pill and after computer simulated warnings, reports failure to do so.
  • Computer terminals and other equipment to provide the resident with job training (one is never too old to learn) and work opportunities from home.

d)      A research facility at a major university, such as Penn State, where the Immersive Construction (ICon) lab develops a 3-D model of the experimental model so stakeholders can suggest design changes.

 

Stakeholders would include:

  • Prospective residents of future neighborhood (or elsewhere) housing
  • Members of the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) community
  • Caregivers

The research facility would also be able to process data collected at the experimental facility, such as remote medical monitoring and activities of daily living (ADL) so future construction can benefit.

e)      Creation of an inter-generational accessible community with shopping, recreation, and other services which make a community a community.

Stay tuned for further navigational aids which link posts on this site to the issues raised here and which answers the question: Why is creation of a new kind of neighborhood (with a variety of other options to be presented) so critical to dealing with the housing shortage throughout the world as the largest generation in history begins to retire in an environment where a previous generation of elderly and disabled individuals (including, of course, veterans) are so poorly served at a great expense to society and at a loss of dignity among people whose talents are not being developed adequately.]

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I tell you love, sister, it’s just a kiss away/ It’s just a kiss away….

–“Gimme Shelter” by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nU4aiqvyt4&feature=watch_response

McKeesport is not as depressing as you might think: Special

I realize not as depressing as you might think shouts out that McKeesport really is a depressing place. It is.

When I get around to it, I will describe the exceptions to depressing, such as this fire juggler whom I saw last night while I attended Corpus Christi, an annual Downtown McKeesport event two blocks from the Blueroof Experimental Cottage where I am entering this blog post on my laptop on the kitchen table.

If you are quick, you can see me now live on the Internet blogging away at Blueroof Technologies’ Experimental Cottage–do-gooders extraordinaire so aging in place can happen with dignity and independence for:

  • Young at heart
  • Veteran
  • Civilian
  • Perfectly able or
  • Disabled like me

http://75.149.30.169:60001/CgiStart?page=Single&Language=0 [Only one view at a time: so take a metaphorical number and experience the enforced patience of becoming elderly or come back and click impulsively.]

I took the following photograph today of a side street (not that McKeesport’s Fifth Avenue is much better) to show what I mean by depressing:

In the six or so years that I have lived and traveled through the Rust Belt Of Pennsylvania, McKeesport is definitely the most depressing of Rust Belt depressing towns. McKeesport has been losing population steadily from its all time high in 1940 of 55,355 to the most current figures available– a mere 19,731 people according to the 2010 U.S. Census–an ongoing decline; this time 17 percent fewer people than 10 years ago.

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McKeesport is 19 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

Double click on the photo.

See a START pin showing where I am now on Sunday morning July 1, 2012, 7:10 AM, getting ready to take a shower at the Blueroof Experimental Cottage, 400 Spring Street, McKeesport 15132.

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Hope: The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary of the English Language (Copyright 2012) defines hope as: “expectation of fulfillment or success.”

McKeesport Hope 1. Best shower for the elderly and disabled. For me, as a 64-year-old man with a spinal cord injury who cannot walk: hope in McKeesport means being able to take the best shower (safest, most satisfying) that I have taken in the 18 years of being a paraplegic: a shower I can take without assistance from a health care aide, a shower that does not put me in danger of falling posing the risk (as my neighbors back at an independent living facility at State College which I call home face on a daily basic–a risk that all too often leads to an ambulance outside my window, a trip eventually leading to Centre Crest, a nursing home where at great government expense, my neighbors die in despair).  [I am generally a cheerful guy]

Here in McKeesport is the best shower for paraplegics in the world:

When I entered the bathroom to take a shower, the lights to the bathroom were not on. As the forward wheels of my scooter crossed the beam generated by this contraption co-founder Robert Walters installed:

the lights go on. [Let there be Light.]

Meanwhile, inside the shower a motion detector is making sure that I do not fall.

Here in the shower, a motion detector watches out for me. See it. It is on the top left of the bathroom door. It looks like this:

If I fall, the detector detects no motion. If I do not get up after a period of time programmed by an expert, the walls call 911 and my family.

Actually, the voice that makes the call is a voice synthesizer located on a shelf in the laboratory in the basement. The interns who installed it had a range of voices to choose from. They chose the surprisingly sexy voice whom ever afterward is known as Amy. I can just imagine my daughters Joanna and Amelia when the lascivious voice of Amy calls to inform them their father has just fallen in the shower.

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McKeesport Hope 2. Fresh water fish are back in the Mon Monongahela River.

Now that the River is no longer polluted with the effluents caused by National Tube Company, once McKeesport’s largest employer, sadly missed because the unemployment rate here is in the double digits, fresh water fish have returned.

Signs for live fishing bait are prominently displayed. The Marina, quite pretty, is doing a booming business.

[I must stop this work in progress here. A friend just called reminding me that it is past 10 and this posting, dear subscribers and readers, promises that a return to more hope and more despair await you.]

However, July 4th is nearly here and let me close by reminding you that the pursuit of happiness is currently denied to too many of the men and women, veterans of our wars –who fought to keep us free–and their families.

Blueroof plans to build a research cottage for a veteran family to provide the kind of decent housing Blueroof has become famous for creating–a place not only of residence but of research to ensure that disabled, aging, and low-income veterans can age in place successfully and that our engineering, architecture, and architectural engineering schools can better learn how to provide designs that improve the quality of their lives.

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Words do not escape me. Rest assured, I will return–showered and ready to post and comment on photographs such as this one:

This too is McKeesport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aging Baby Boomers Like Me Need Housing: Think of this as an eccentric table of contents

Naturally, I begin with myself. The primary theme of my website is based on a scholarly body of literature known as experienced-based design which for the layperson, such as myself, means that I should have a role in the design of the world I live in.
1. For an attempt at a coherent presentation of me: see http://www.joelsolkoff.com/posts/about-me/ and if you want to read my resume, click on the hotlink where my name appears.
2. My focus. Specifically, I am focusing on two separate worlds (or perhaps world views would be more correct); namely:
  • Reality: the design of housing for elderly and disabled individuals such as myself
  • Virtual reality: the tool that makes it possible, economical, and more efficient to create a 3-D model that can be used as a template for the massive construction effort required to house the elderly population here in Rust Belt, PA, and as we age; we “baby boomers” who constitute the largest generation in our country and indeed the world’s history. Stay tuned for more on this demographic reality and its impact.
3. Location.
McKeesport, PA is the unlikely location for a presentation of how the reality of technology currently being constructed should serve as a model for the future. The overriding example presented here is a non-profit corporation Blueroof Technologies founded 10 years ago, where I spent three days and two nights in December as the first invited guest at the Blueroof Experimental Cottage shown here with Blueroof’s founders on the front porch (a front porch identified by elderly residents as being significant to their sense of well-being):
 blueroof founders
Next is a photograph of next door in decaying McKeesport. Notice that the road and sidewalk are rotting, and the door and everything else about the building has been demolished, but the wheelchair-accessible curb cut is brand new. (Stay tuned for more on McKeesport‘s curb cuts to nowhere.)
The principal characters in this encomium to Blueroof’s founders are Dr. Robert Walters, (left) a former engineering professor at the local campus of Penn State, and John Bertoty, a retired principal of the local high school.
A lengthy profile of John Bertotoy (scan the words; look at the pictures) is available: http://www.joelsolkoff.com/blueroof-reality/john-bertoty-at-blueroof/
My under construction profile of John’s cofounder reads: “Robert Walters is the kind of engineer who collects more data than he knows what to do with, but wants more.” Bob currently is collecting data on the number of times the residents of a non-experimental Blueroof residence open their refrigerator doors.
Assume your 86-year-old mother is living alone in an apartment (which is basically what a Blueroof Cottage is). If she has not opened her refrigerator door for three days, that indicates something is wrong. The wired cottage alerts you in a timely fashion and you are able to get there before three days, whatever default Bob contrives. Instead of arriving at Mom’s residence to find her passed out on the floor, requiring an ambulance and who-knows-what, you are able to get over there and help your mother out.
This is a device Bob contrived to measure activities of daily living (ADL) and signal alarms and phone calls for help. The wireless BlueNode System (motion detectors and other sensors not shown, nor the refrigerator):
University Park, PA. is a two and a half drive east and north from McKeesport. Here the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering (AE) is home of the Smart Spaces Center for Independent Living, an interdisciplinary group which has the capability to help Bob Walters process the data he obtains and find useful applications.
One place where Bob’s data are applied is in the AE Department’s Immersive Construction (ICon) Lab and now is the time to put on your 3-D glasses:
The principals at University Park are:
Dr. Richard Behr, Director of the Smart Spaces Center for Independent Living and professor of architectural engineering.
Dr. John Messner, director of the Computer Integrated Construction (CIC) Research  Program (which includes custodianship of the virtual reality lab) and professor of architectural engineering.
[No, I do not know why John and Sonali’s photos came out larger than Rich’s and my wonderful IT guru is asleep. Who wouldn’t be at this hour?]
Sonali Kumar, graduate assistant to John M. and the 3-D modeller who turned me into a virtual reality avatar.
Now more on each:
Dr. Richard Behr has been the prime visionary on all of this. As Director of the multidisciplinary Smart Spaces Center, Rich has been a prime mover in the effort to foster aging in place long before it because a recognized goal. He has focused on retrofitting existing residences so the elderly could continue to live in their traditional homes and in supporting the development of Blueroof and the use of virtual technology in Dr. Messner’s CIC Program.
“These technologies,” Dr. Behr writes, “are often grouped into three broad categories based on their function and value: those which
(1) address safety at the environmental level,
(2) secure health and wellness at the individual level, and
(3) enable social connectedness at the community level .”
Dr. John Messner uses virtual technology to design health care facilities. Shown here are pharmacists from the Washington, D.C. area viewing a Kaiser Permanente health care facility not yet constructed. The pharmacists drove from DC to State College (quite a schlep, try it sometime) to view their future workplace and make important design changes before building began.
Sonali Kumar built this 3-D model of me as an avatar getting ready to take a shower:
avatar in shower
Sonali is completing her doctoral work on experienced-based design, which this is. As I keyboard this posting, I frequently glance at her award-winning poster entitled “Experience-Based Design  Review of Healthcare Facilities Using An Interactive Prototyping System.” Shown here is one of the experienced-based design consultants Sonali used to research the effectiveness of an interactive prototyping system, Lilian Hutchison, my 87-year old neighbor:
4. Baby Boom Demographics
One out of every four Americans is a part of the Baby Boom generation which the U.S Census Department defines as those 76 million Americans born between 1946, the year after World War II ended, and 1964 when prodigious use of birth control and other factors caused the annual birth rate to fall below 4 million.
The first baby boomers have already begun to retire despite the fact that most jobs in the United States are held by baby boomers. When the members of my generation give up their jobs a whole slew of disaster scenarios appear—whether you go to the U.S. Census Bureau’s excellent website or consult Google’s index and find this expression of impending disaster:
5. Who is the primary audience for this information? Why it is the Ford Foundation, based in New York City which has demonstrated a tradition of providing funding for significantly innovative projects that improve the lives of indigent, elderly, and disabled individuals throughout the world (and the world includes the United States).
“Completed in 1968 by the firm of Roche-Dinkeloo, the Ford Foundation Building was the first large-scale architectural building in the country to devote a substantial portion of its space to horticultural pursuits. Its well-known atrium was designed with the notion of having urban greenspace accessible to all, and is an example of the application in architecture of environmental psychology.” –Wikipedia (of course)
How do I know of the Ford Foundation’s excellence when it comes to recognizing innovative excellence. In 1981, I worked for then Ford President, the distinguished  Franklin Thomas who also chaired a major Rockefeller Foundation (also good guys) report South Africa: Time Running Out, The Report of the Study Commission on U.S. Policy Toward Southern Africa. http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/35145/jennifer-seymour-whitaker/south-africa-time-running-out. I wrote chapter 13.
Ford has a tradition of distinguished leadership exemplified by McGeorge Bundy, who left Lyndon Johnson’s White House to become Ford’s President.
Today, the President of Ford is Luis Antonio Ubiñas. His official biography notes: “Prior to joining the Ford Foundation, Luis was a director at McKinsey & Company, leading the firm’s media practice on the West Coast. He served technology, telecommunications and media companies, working with them to develop and implement strategies and improve operations. Much of his work focused on the opportunities and challenges represented by the growth of Internet and wireless technologies.”


Floor plan Blueroof Experimental Cottage

High-tech elderly and disability housing in the real world; namely McKeesport, Pennsylvania:

McKeesport is the home of Blue Roof Technologies. http://www.bluerooftechnologies.com/


Yes, it is wheelchair accessible.

This is a floor plan of the inside. I have driven my scooter through all of it, so I know it exists. I also know that right now there is an elderly individual living in a cottage of this design and more cottages are becoming available for residence as I key in these words.

Sensors command that 911  be called automatically if a resident falls. The apartment reminds (the apartment reminds? here walls talk) the resident when to take medication.