Abacus Architects, Inc.

Informed Design.

Abacus Institute uses evidence, innovation and expertise to optimize design, construction and occupancy outcomes.

The word “institute” comes from a Latin word instituere meaning “build,” “create,” “raise” or “educate.”[1]


Since the Firm was founded in 2003, Abacus Architects has devised innovative ways of distinguishing our practice of architecture. Abacus Institute was formed in 2019 as the expert advisory arm to Abacus Architects. The Institute provides access to niche expertise that enables our designers, clients, and partners to anticipate and prepare for the increasing complexity and rapid rate of change within the senior living, education, residential, retail, corporate, and hospitality sectors. Equally, there are many specialized considerations that cut across industry sectors: Consumer expectations, changing demographics, talent retention, smart technology, environmental consciousness, and optimizing outcomes. The Institute’s expert advisors have a vested interest in applying national and international research, insights, and best practices to enrich the lives of the local people and communities that our firm, clients, and partners serve in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest.

Quality Assurance & Performance Improvement
Quality Assurance (QA) and Performance Improvement (PI) are complimentary efforts to meet quality standards, promote wellbeing, improve processes, prevent adverse outcomes, and exceed external requirements. The Institute’s merger of these two approaches ensures a systematic, comprehensive, data-driven approach to analyze problems, identify opportunities for improvement, and set priorities for action. To this end, the Institute uses the QAPI process to engage a cross section of client’s internal stakeholders and vested partners to:

> Prioritize the organizational imperatives for decision-making
> Explore opportunities and shortcomings in systems or processes
> Develop and implement a plan to optimize operational alignment
> Devise ways to evaluate the efficacy of interventions

Advisory & Consultation Services
There is broad recognition that the complex issues confronting good and thoughtful design solutions cut across disciplines and industry sectors. Because of the emphasis that Abacus Architects places upon relationship development, in addition to Abacus Institute serving as the expert advisory arm to the Firm’s design teams, the Institute also functions independently as an expert resource to other designers, developers, clients, businesses, and/or organizations.

Specialized Abacus teams
While Abacus encourages design team members to cross-pollinate ideas, designated internal teams work together with Institute experts based upon their personal passion for various building types. Guided by one project manager, this team works with clients, subcontractors and vendors from beginning to end to ensure project continuity and integrity.

> Senior Living
> Education
> Residential
> Retail
> Corporate
> Hospitality


Aging & Dementia
By 2031, the largest segment of the US population – the Baby Boomers – will reach the age of 85 when people experience the most extreme normal changes associated with aging and there is the highest risk of developing dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease and LATE; at this time, there is no prevention or cure. The design of settings, however, has a profound effect on the quality of living and care for older adults. A supportive environment, while particularly relevant for people with impairments, can benefit everyone.

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Proper lighting design has a profound impact on health, well-being, productivity, safety, and the experiential quality of spaces. Lighting exposure, intensity, and color considerations are important for creating optimum photobiological effects (e.g., the circadian system, and vitamin D synthesis), especially for people who have compromised vision and/or increased sensory sensitivity. Efficient design and energy conservation are also essential considerations for practical everyday use senior living, education, residential, retail, corporate, and hospitality settings.

Environment, Organization and Operation Alignment
Clients often pursue design as a means of improving efficiency, efficacy, and economy. This can be true of any market sector, whether it is the desire to improve the living experience within a residential setting or improve service delivery at a retail location. The design of the environment alone, however, very rarely results in the kind of meaningful and enduring change that clients wish to see. Careful considerations must be made when attempting to foster and sustain new or different patterns of activity. For organizations and businesses, it is highly beneficial to work collaboratively with specialized environmental designers to evaluate, modify, or generate policies, procedures, job descriptions that guide everyday decision making and inform the design of the setting to support ongoing activities.

Occupancy & Operational Evaluation
Designing an environment that is intended to accomplish specific outcomes hinges upon evaluating the degree to which the design of the building is supports or impedes goals while it is occupied. While the planning, goal setting and evaluation of outcomes is a specialized activity, it tends to be a more straightforward pre/post-design/construction proposition in buildings that are undergoing renovations or new additions because of ongoing occupancy. In the case of new construction, the efficacy and efficiency of design strategies are informed using a combination of intended operational performa and generalizable outcomes. Occupancy and operational evaluation may also be employed without engaging in building modifications; it may be carried out in an effort to reposition furniture, inform investments, or revise current use patterns. The primary benefit it to streamline utility, maximize positive outcomes, and minimize unintended consequences which all impact the bottom line and the user experience.


Addie Abushousheh, PhD, EDAC, Assoc. AIA
Dr. Abushousheh is a gerontologist, researcher, and consultant for organizational and environmental development. She explores cultural and bio-psycho-social perspectives, organizational structures and processes, physical environments, workforce models, and regulatory and financial frameworks in relation to decision making, resource management, and quality improvement. With combined expertise in architecture, organizational development, aging, and applied research, Addie advances comprehensive and translational agendas related to quality assessment and performance improvement. Dr. Abushousheh is a Senior Research Associate with The Center for Health Design, an Adjunct Faculty member at Kent State University, and a Senior Living Advisor for Abacus Institute.

Addie advances person-centered care within the continuum of care with special consideration for individuals with cognition and/or physical impairments. She serves as a tri-Chair for the Facility Guidelines Institute’s Residential Design Guidelines, was a Technical Expert for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, and managed an array of national projects for The Hulda B. & Maurice L. Rothschild Foundation & The Mayer-Rothschild Foundation in Chicago, IL. She is the co-author of Person‐Centered Care: A Policies and Workforce Toolkit for Long‐Term Care Settings, published in 2019 by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Genevieve Liesemeyer
Genevieve is an educated and trained architectural interior designer with 25 years of experience in the design industry. She is a Wisconsin licensed interior designer, tested and recognized by NCIDQ.

With over 2 decades of experience working with residential clients, as well as designing for segments of the healthcare industry, Genevieve brings a unique perspective and understanding of human ergonomics, person-centered design and a commitment to the personhood of individuals especially for the senior segment of our population. We do not view senior living as “facility” living, but instead, as the person’s home. Our specialized knowledge and experience of older adults allows us to integrate the individual differences within the design process. These individual differences would include, but are not limited to changes in physical ability and mobility; visual and sensory perception; cognitive ability; ability to perceive, interpret and navigate the environment and environmental hazards that may be a result of inappropriate lighting, design elements, color, furniture choice or placement which are not congruent with changes of aging, whether those are normal changes or pathologic changes. We also understand that there is an additional set of requirements that need to be met in order to facility the work of the care givers and yet another for the building maintenance staff.

Lighting impacts every aspect of the living and work environment. It is particularly important to have an understanding of the power that lighting has and its effect on seniors. The devastating effects of too little light that creates shadows and causes visual confusion can result in tripping, falling and running into things. Conversely, too much light and the wrong application of lighting can create painful glare and can also cause visual confusion with many of the same results as too little light. The right application of color temperature can impact the mood and feeling of well-being for the residents, while the incorrect color temperature can have a negative effect. Applications of multi-level lighting and LED technology can enable the environment to be illuminated with flexibility to accommodate the changing needs and various tasks that need to be accommodated in the senior living environment. Appropriate lighting is money well spent and a good investment in the health and well-being of all who dwell in the space. It pays for its self over time, especially with the new lighting technologies available. It is safer and can actually be leveraged to enhance the ability to attract and maintain residents.

Genevieve is committed to and passionate about providing beautiful and safe living environments that function for all persons that live and interact within the environment. She believes strongly in a trans-disciplinary approach to designing senior living environments and is truly an advocate for the person-centered paradigm shift in the approach to designing senior living spaces.

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