Patti & Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art, and PerformanceDepartment of Art and DesignCollege of Liberal Arts

Westminster Village director excited about students' fresh perspectives

By Anne Marie Yarbrough
THiNK Magazine

Westminster Village has established a long relationship with students and faculty at Purdue University, and its leaders are excited to see what the teams accomplish in the 2020 Purdue Interior Design Challenge.

Inspired by the success of a similar project by Indiana State students at the continuing care retirement community’s sister facility in Terre Haute, Westminster Village executive director Ben Blankenship hoped to develop an equally productive project with Purdue. Blankenship invited Purdue interior design students to rethink his facility’s apartment layouts, just as the Indiana State students did in their project.

“It seemed like a natural fit to reach out to Purdue,” Blankenship said. “We’ve really found it to be a great partnership for students, as well as residents and I, to gain experience and to express needs and desires. … We enjoy partnerships with Purdue, and anytime we can work with Purdue students, it’s intergenerational. Our residents really get excited to work with young people.”

The goal of this project is to ensure the best living experience possible for residents at Westminster Village. The sophomore interior design students are expected to incorporate Westminster’s resident-focused mission and values into their designs while gaining real-world experience that is unique for students who are only in their second year at Purdue.

The Interior Design Challenge is one of many hands-on projects and opportunities that Westminster Village has offered to Purdue students, and these relationships are just as beneficial for the facility’s staff and residents. For example, Purdue interns help coordinate a banquet that is one of Westminster’s biggest events each year.

Blankenship hopes the interior design students’ fresh perspectives will help them also make valuable contributions at Westminster.

“I’m very impressed. The students have come in with a totally different perspective than what we have seen with even designers that we have worked with,” Blankenship said. “It’s a totally different set of eyes from a different perspective. They’re still learning the trade versus someone who has been working in it for years. It’s a fresh set of ideas, which is good for us.”

The project provides a valuable opportunity for students to work with a group of clients who are open to collaboration and involvement. This has made feedback readily available to the students throughout the design process, and that allows them to focus on the clients’ needs and desires. This is an important factor in design, and it’s also part of the mission at Westminster Village.

“Our mission at Westminster is to be the preeminent community for living well, and we want to do whatever we can do to provide our residents with an environment where they can live well,” Blankenship said. “That may be the design of the apartment. If it can enhance the lives of our residents, that is our goal.”

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