News Oct 9, 2019

Technology and Sustainability Unite to Help Seniors Thrive in an Urban Setting

Jacobs is leading design and planning for a proposed high-rise that’s using technological innovation to drive better healthcare outcomes while redefining senior living and care.

Aerial view of Orlando with Vertical Medical City building prominent in foreground

Boosted by population growth at a rate that far outpaces most cities in the nation, Orlando, Florida’s economy is expected to forge ahead with combining advances across healthcare, technology and sustainability.

With a median population of 37, the population of Orlando is younger than other metro area across Florida, however, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of residents over age 65 has risen in Orange, Osceola, Lake and Seminole counties as baby boomers begin hitting that milestone birthday and millennials put off having children. These numbers reflect a global trend of an aging world, the Pew Research Center called it one of the 10 demographics reshaping society.

In recognizing these market trends, Ponte Health Properties, LLC, has unveiled their first high-rise development project with a goal of nothing less than redefining the urban aging-in-place experience. Vertical Medical City – Orlando, has been envisioned as an iconic architectural statement that provides the ultimate environment to advance the care and support of healthy living for seniors within an urban location. To put their “continuum of care” philosophy into place, Ponte Health has decided to redevelop a highly-visible brownfield site within Downtown Orlando’s North Quarter District. Through use of smart building technology and artificial intelligence, Ponte Health is working with Jacobs to use building design as a driver to support the work of caregivers, researchers and medical professionals to prevent, diagnose and treat the aging population.

As architect, we’re leading the design and planning of the two-tower complex encompassing over 1.3 million square feet and 35 stories of highly interactive environments, vertical farming and within a high-performance building envelope. The 444-foot-tall structure — three feet taller than downtown’s current tallest, the SunTrust Center — is located on Orange Avenue two blocks north of Colonial Drive overlooking Interstate 4. 

The more than $1 billion project will form a new northern gateway into downtown and house medical offices, on-site assisted-living and research facilities. “Together all these elements form an optimal high-touch and high-tech environment for the promotion of healthy living and aging-in-place,” said Jacobs Buildings, Infrastructure and Advanced Facilities Design Principal Dan Kirby. “Our goal is to create a holistic environment to empower innovators. We want to create a place that views aging not as just the inevitable side effect of surviving, but as an affirmation and extension of a life well lived. This is not just place where seniors exist, but where they can thrive.”

The proposed high-rise joins a spate of hulking projects in various stages of planning, including one that could be its equal in height, and another that could have the most residential units of any building downtown. Vertical Medical City-Orlando is proposed to open in 2023 and is anticipated to add more than 1,000 residents and hundreds of permanent jobs in the targeted healthcare employment sector.