Lee Ann O’Brien, chief marketing officer at McGregor, points out a detail of an all-access home design to Rasheeda Larkin, manager of government and community relations, The Cleveland Clinic.

Northeast Ohioans are staying active and independent well into their senior years. But family homes have not always kept pace.

“We realize more and more people want to age in their home,” said Lee Ann O’Brien, chief marketing officer, McGregor, a senior living organization. “We want to combat the stigma of old homes that may have ramps and bars and medical devices that indicate aging and disabilities.”

North Coast Community Homes (NCCH) provides more than 200 homes across northeast Ohio for 700 people with mental and /or physical disabilities. “In general, there’s not a lot of homes for seniors trying to stay in their own homes,” said Jamie R. Van Doren, chief marketing officer for NCCH. “We need to build homes with accessibility in mind.”

So, the two organizations partnered with the Cleveland Foundation to tap architectural expertise for creative ideas with practical applications. The result is Zero Threshold, an international competition that invited professionals and students of architecture and design to devise plans that are innovative and beautiful for accessible housing and accessible neighborhoods.

The international competition drew 31 designs from six countries, with several of the entries displayed in a two-day exhibit in August at The McGregor Community Center. The winning design, to be announced September 19, 2019, will be built in Old Brooklyn, to be funded by the Cleveland Foundation.

The “Side by Side” entry proposes a multi-use, multi-abled commons incorporating communal cooking, gardens and learning areas.