2016 Category: Single Spaces

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Environments for Aging is pleased to announce the finalists of our 8th annual Remodel/Renovation competition. 

The 2016 competition, featuring Single Spaces, drew more than 45 entries. Our expert panelists from SAGE (The Society for the Advancement of Gerontological Environments) reviewed all submissions and narrowed them down to the Top 10. 

Awards were designated as follows:

BEST IN CATEGORY: Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay Wellness Center [Sarasota, Fla.]

This project selected by our jury as the "best in category" received top honors in the magazine AND will be recognized at the Environments for Aging Expo & Conference next February in Las Vegas

READER'S CHOICE: Aldersgate Retirement Community Town Center, Central Space [Charlotte, N.C.]

This project received our Reader's Choice award for the most votes from our readers in an online review and voting competition.


Top 10 Projects

1.Fredericka Manor [Chula Vista, Calif.]6.Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay Wellness Center [Sarasota, Fla.] 
2.Aldersgate Retirement Community Town Center, Central Space [Charlotte, N.C.]7.Auditorium at North Scranton Junior High School Senior Apartments [Scranton, Pa.]
3.Hefner Community Center/Asbury Methodist Village [Gaithersburg, Md.]8.The Patrician [San Diego]
4.Vriendschap Village - A Watermark Retirement Community [Pella, Iowa]9.Woodcrest Villa – Viva Bistro [Lancaster, Pa.]
5.Seasons of Danvers [Danvers, Mass.]10.Cornerstone MRC [Texarkana, Texas]











1.  Fredericka Manor [Chula Vista, Calif.]

Total renovation cost: $970,000 with partial kitchen remodel
Cost per square foot: $102
Residents Served: Assisted listing & Independent living. Plus families, guests and community outreach activities.
Photos (after): Michael Baxter Photography

Transforming a cavernous cafeteria-style dining hall into a restaurant style venue to engage residents and enhance dining options was the goal at Fredericka Manor. The renovation and re-imagination of this space represent a dramatic change in experience for residents, staff and visitors. The original large “dining hall” was crafted into intimate, colorful, and a purposeful dining venue, allowing choice and variety in the dining experience. The existing space offered a vast opportunity, through its existing mid-century architecture and lovely views to gardens and pond. The overall scale of the space needed careful thought and consideration, while the charge was to provide options that were nonexistent before, and open up opportunities for breakfast and lunch dining in a defined area for staff to serve more efficiently.

Engaging the residents and staff, as part of the design process, provided insight, function and design preferences. Based on their input, the team arranged the large impersonal space, into smaller settings that offered improved and new ideas for programming including a Wine Lab and a sophisticated take on an exhibition diner-style counter experience. As requested by residents and staff, flexibility became a hallmark of the design to improve function and offer programming needs beyond typical dining hours.
The cafeteria-style serving line was replaced with a new exposition-cooking element, which is a shining jewel of this crown. The chef is out front allowing residents to see, hear and smell their fare being created. A large, and previously unused, section of the dining room was raised to give diners an elevated experience and capitalize on the views of the beautiful gardens. This new area also provides an opportunity for designated events, like private parties and celebrations, as well as corporate meetings, which was not available before. The left side of the buffet is the designated area for the smaller crowd at breakfast and lunch, allowing the natural light and designed with a more casual style, but still connected to the space.
One cannot miss the unique architectural structure in the center of the room, which reflects the mid-century artistic elements, constructed of decorative resin panels that allow light to flood the space and create a focal point from every seat. This intentionally defined space has proper-sized openings for residents with walkers accessing all directions and provides access to a designated buffet and salad bar offerings. Flooring now reflects seamless transitions between the hard-surface and carpeting. Chairs with firm seat cushions and proper arm heights allow for easier lifting from a sitting to a standing position. A variety of table combinations can accommodate groups of two to twelve, plus booths and banquettes, all to provide flexibility.
The renovation is clearly enjoyed by the residents as they spend more time and engage with friends and family. The success not seen is the ease of navigation without confusion or disorientation and a more human-scaled space. Balanced with flexibility and innovative design, the dining experience now fosters more opportunity to engage.

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2.  Aldersgate Retirement Community Town Center, Central Space [Charlotte, N.C.]

Total renovation cost: $963,952
Cost per square foot: $203
Residents Served: Alzheimer’s/Dementia Commons area
Photos (after): © RHWilson Photography

Cuthbertson Town Center is the “commons area” of Aldersgate’s 61-resident memory support unit. Originally built in 2003, the Town Center was organized as a Village Square, mimicking an outdoor “streetscape” with periphery spaces surrounding a skylit central area. The original “Village Square” was a visual cacophony of colors, materials and physical elements. Large planters, a water feature (long since kept dry), a stage, and multiple areas separated from the main space by brick columns and metal railings, the center’s main area had very little usable space. Artificial-looking storefronts added to the visual confusion. Hard surfaces and inefficient acoustic materials made it difficult for residents to hear.  Harsh light was also a problem, as was available seating, which had no cushions and many chairs with no arms.

In renovating, the goal was to design a space that was more attractive and functional for residents while better supporting group activities as well as new operational needs.

The team met with administration as well as all levels of staff throughout the planning and design phases of this project to identify new uses and goals. Aldersgate staff already had ideas about what new functions should be part of the perimeter, based on their experience with the residents. In addition, the team worked with a resident committee, which reviewed the design at each phase and provided feedback and input. This depth of experience and access was invaluable to the project.

Taking inspiration from the gracious courtyard gardens of Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans, the space was refocused on the skylight area, creating an “outdoor” garden with comfortable and supportive seating, surrounded by a colonnade that gives definition to the circulation paths. The southern city courtyard aesthetic is carried throughout the space. Details—pilasters, faux balconies, trellis effects, and pergola effects—add relief to flat walls in an organic, visually integrated way. Acoustic panels of dark fabric dampen noise while giving the feeling of second story windows. New fixtures--decorative lantern fixtures and LED cove lighting--offer soft but ample light. Each household entry off the Town Center is uniquely identified to assist residents with wayfinding.

The renovated Town Center central space and colonnade now provide a comfortable environment for residents to gather, visit or simply sit. Facades to the periphery spaces are more intimate and scaled to the residential. The courtyard feels light and airy, but the detailing gives it a relatable scale and context. There is plenty of comfortable seating, and acoustics and lighting deficiencies have been resolved. In addition, even seemingly small improvements, such as unique identifiers for each household--a different color door, a special light fixture--are helping residents find their way back to their rooms with less assistance. Music piped throughout encourages resident to come and enjoy the sunshine or other activities.

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3.  Hefner Community Center/Asbury Methodist Village [Gaithersburg, Md.]

Total renovation cost: $1.3 million
Cost per square foot: $206
Residents Served: Independent Living
Photos (after): Thomas Watkins Photography
The key to the success of the project was the intimate collaboration of the community itself in the design process. A committee was elected among the residents and they were part of every decision made throughout, from color schemes and furniture to architectural details and art selections. It was important to the residents that this renovation become an extension of their home and that is exactly what was achieved.
The lower level space adjacent to the dining room was underutilized and had no apparent function. Our solution created a vibrant, interactive bar/bistro that could now both serve as a secondary dining venue and a multipurpose room that hosts sing-a-longs, book clubs, Monday night football and much more. 
The space was transformed into the bar/bistro by creating a multifunctional bar and adding dining tables and various groups of lounge seating. This new space complete with new furniture and upscale finishes is now the main social hub of the community.

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4.  Vriendschap Village - A Watermark Retirement Community [Pella, Iowa]

Total renovation cost: $400,000
Cost per square foot: $117
Residents Served: Assisted living & independent living
Photos (after): Ken Stabile Photography
In 2011, a development group acquired a senior living community that was aging and had design flaws that improperly segregated independent living residents from assisted living residents.  Each section had a separate entrance with an awkward series of tight spaces and locked doors. The only shared access was through doorways via the business office.
The separation created two worlds under one roof, an unwieldy operation of inefficiencies, unacquainted employees and isolated residents. The divided layout begged for reconciliation with the other half. 
After acquiring the property, management surveyed the residents to solicit unbiased comments about the community. Residents lamented the lack of space for socialization as well as the lack of a casual dining area with snack options, as most residents ate sporadically in the dining room.
Key employees contributed additional input and submitted the recommendations to management and the interior design firm. “We wanted to transform the building to foster a sense of community,” says the senior interior designer on the project. 
What began in early 2015 as a project to unify the community mushroomed into a complete renovation of the common areas. The project had challenges, including re-engineering the building’s internal structure, moving load-bearing walls, reallocating office space, and relocating the mailroom to make it an integral part of daily life.
Office space was reconfigured and the outdated resident coffee area removed. Provided in its place was an open grab-and-go style café stocked with snacks, sandwiches, and light fare that connected the assisted and independent living areas. Casual seating was added to host the diners, coffee clubbers and visitors. The original uninviting coffee area is now a modern café that receives traffic and natural light from both sides of the building. 
The dining staff was hesitant about the burden to service the café, but in working with the food services manager we created ways to service the café from the main kitchen. The receptionist’s work area was also reconfigured to include a cashier station and is now able to assist in the daily operation of the café to increase services without adding staff. 
The café is the hub of the building and the gateway into the dining area. New stylish wood barn doors on the dining entrance provide flexibility to change venue size based on the needs of the active community. The dining area was also redesigned to increase its functionality as a multipurpose room with a modern twist.
Opening into the front of the café is a newly renovated lobby. The spacious lobby provides a warm welcome to guests, with a large stone fireplace. Extra attention was paid to the décor by using artwork and accessories from area shops which embodies the culture of the area.
Renovations were unveiled in May 2016. When asked if the project achieved its goal, the director of development for the community concludes, “The banter, laughter and smiles in the café each morning is evidence of a successful project.”

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5.  Seasons of Danvers [Danvers, Mass.] 

Total renovation cost: $4 million
Cost per square foot: $160
Residents Served: Alzheimer’s residents
Photos (before and after): Submitting firm
Built in phases between the 1960s and the 1980s, this former nursing facility had been vacated by a larger healthcare corporation and fallen into disrepair, leaving a grim shell of a building. The developer and operator partnered on the project, seeing great potential as a medium sized Alzheimer’s/memory care facility in a convenient suburban location. The primary goal of the renovation was to stay precisely on a tight budget, enabling the community to charge monthly resident fees that are 25% less than similar communities in the region, resulting in occupancy rates of nearly 100%.
The courtyard, in particular, was seen as a vital part of this Alzheimer’s community as it allows a secure outdoor space for residents to walk, socialize, and be connected to nature. There are opportunities for gardening and multiple sitting spaces. The courtyard allows for a colorful view from resident rooms and from the central household.
When possible, residents are encouraged and helped to go outside in the new courtyard. They can go at their own pace because of the security level of the enclosure and soak in the great outdoors. Simply being outside stimulates their senses—the wind on their face, the smell of flowers, the sound of neighbors laughing, the sight of a bird soaring or the feel of the sun warming their skin. Residents are calmer and happier because of this daily connection to nature.
The finished project is nearly unrecognizable from its former self, with bright, life-enhancing renovations in every area of the building and grounds. It has become the centerpiece of this renovation.

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6.  Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay Wellness Center [Sarasota, Fla.] 

Total renovation cost: $1.35 million
Cost per square foot: $139
Residents Served: The Wellness Center serves the independent residents of Plymouth Harbor.  Plymouth Harbor provides the full continuum of care for seniors in the Sarasota area. 
Photos (after): The Greg Wilson Group Architectural & Interior Photographers
Set in a captivating environment, surrounded by the blue waters of the Gulf Coast, Plymouth Harbor at Sarasota Bay is a senior living community that strives to place wellness at the heart of its resident culture. This desire to promote healthy lifestyles, with both residents and staff alike, was the motivator for the community to decide to create a new wellness area for independent residents. A new wellness director, passionate about seniors’ fitness, created programming goals. The existing fitness area, which was located in the basement of the high-rise apartment tower, needed a significant renovation in order to make this dream a reality.     
The main objective for the new wellness area, for community leadership and residents alike, was clear: Create an exciting wellness destination where residents can focus on their health and wellness while enjoying social opportunities with fellow residents.    
A resident committee helped identify resident goals. The current space was dark and “uninspiring”; they asked for a “sunny and bright” space that they would be eager to visit frequently with family and friends. The design team interacted frequently with the resident committee and staff to develop the design. 
A resident donated to the renovation fund with the request that the wellness area include a ballroom dance floor. She believed that dancing adds passion and enthusiasm to life and envisioned the space used for parties and dance functions alike. Zones of activity that were differentiated all had complete visibility to one another. Complete with state-of-the-art sound system and dance floor, the dance area is encased with glass walls with complete views to a small social café and to the cardio/fitness area beside it. 
Other design objectives included removing the existing exterior concrete block walls that completely blocked the magnificent views to Sarasota Bay from the interior and replace them with continuous glazing that allowed complete visibility. Structural research with the existing post tension tower structure determined where nonstructural concrete block walls could be removed. This added ample natural light that is showcased through interior glazing. Where structural walls remained, a framed mirror detail was added that acted as a “reflector” of the views from any perspective.   
Other challenges included low ceiling heights with the concrete slab at 8 feet so colors and curved soffits were used to give the illusion of increased height and an uplifting appearance.   Many of the high-rise’s mechanical cooling and sprinkler mains that ran through the original space were rerouted through storage spaces. The remaining plumbing and conduit lines were painted to match the concrete ceiling and add an urban character to the charm of the new wellness/fitness space.  
After the grand opening, the wellness director said, “Regular fitness participation by residents has more than tripled. They love to spend time here.” Residents socialize frequently and host parties and special events with family, friends and visitors in the space that affords them spectacular views of the bright blue waters of Sarasota Bay.

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7.  Auditorium at North Scranton Jr High School Senior Apartments [Scranton, Pa.]

Total renovation cost: $17 million
Cost per square foot: $106
Residents Served: Independent senior living
Photos (after): Hugh Loomis
Scranton Goodwill Senior Apartments is a 58‐unit rental community that provides affordable housing for seniors in the Scranton area. The community is located in the former North Scranton Middle School, which sat vacant for more than 25 years. The building is a city landmark built in 1924. It had been a long-time dream of the client to renovate the building and revitalize it back to its original beauty while introducing affordable senior living within the Scranton community. 
The building is on the National Registry of Historic Places and the historic integrity was maintained and rejuvenated during the renovation process. 
The key component and heart of this renovation was the auditorium, which was a central element within the building. The main objective for the auditorium was to create a space that was an amenity to the residents as well as the surrounding community, inviting numerous avenues of entertainment. This will be a venue that hosts various recitals, plays and performances. The auditorium offers 720 seats to be occupied for these performances, which includes a mezzanine level. The Scranton community was thrilled to see the project come to life and the building restored. Prior to the opening of the building in February 2016, there were numerous events booked to be held at the auditorium venue in great anticipation of its opening.
Along the way there were the typical construction challenges that are expected with renovating a vacant building, all of which were minimal and relatively easy to handle. The project has proven to be a success that has brought new life to the Scranton community.

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8.  The Patrician [San Diego]

Total renovation cost: $4.5 million
Cost per square foot: $152
Residents Served: Independent Living
Photos (after): Derek Reeves
Merrill Garden’s The Patrician is an active senior community located in the lush and livable area of La Jolla, a neighborhood within San Diego, CA. The aging look of the community no longer matched the client’s dedication to “living the best life possible” and contradicted the “Jewel of the Sea” spirit of La Jolla. The Patrician was in dire need of an aesthetic update. Before the remodel, first impressions left little to the imagination: The lobby and adjoined living room space were unused by residents outside of scheduled activities and actively blocked line-of-sight into other areas. There was hardly a feeling of welcome, as dim lighting and a lack of contrast in finishes left residents and staff feeling drained and detached. The design team pinpointed the lobby and living room as requiring an elevated experience and atmosphere, necessitating a more impactful “sense of arrival” that provided pertinent directional cues to the rest of the property. The space needed to appeal to multiple generations while conveying a feeling of home to the residents.
This single space (encompassing the lobby, adjoined living room, and second-floor “look-to-below”) had two major objectives: first, to create a grand entry lobby with integrated reception, sales and lounge experiences, and second, to provide a desirable area for gathering and community interaction.
To achieve the first goal, a custom metal art backdrop incorporating the property’s palm leaf logo was created to be the lobby’s focal point. The reception desk was moved to the side from its front-and-center location while maintaining visual connections to the entrance and community spaces beyond. The desk itself was altered to have multiple counter heights reachable by residents of all accessibility needs. Above, the second-floor space was opened by removing a solid wall that restricted views up as well as down. Partial-height walls were cut down and a glass rail was introduced that helped to brighten the room, allowing seniors restricted to wheelchairs the ability to see downward. These changes strengthened the visual connection between floors and emphasized the grandeur of the space. 
To provide a desirable area for gathering and community interaction, the design team brought a new and flexible program to the living room. Once dark and dreary, the space is now full of daylight and features a fireplace and piano to engage residents and recall a sense of home. It is differentiated from other interior rooms such as the library or game room with its small hospitality bar and varied seating that is easily rearranged for activities such as chorus practice. The use of interior trim and millwork helped to tie the asymmetry of the living room together.
The owner, general manager, and staff were all involved from the outset of design. Input was gathered over time before the team arrived to study the community for key needs prior to design development. Since completing construction residents and guests now enter the property directly into the action with line-of-sight into various areas where lively activity is visible; residents may be playing cards at the fireplace or practicing the piano with family and friends.

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9.  Woodcrest Villa – Viva Bistro [Lancaster, Pa.]

Total renovation cost: $480,000
Cost per square foot: $190
Residents Served:  Independent Living
Photos (after): Nathan Cox Photography
The Woodcrest Villa Viva Bistro was part of a community center renovation and expansion to create a state-of-the-art wellness and welcome center.  A former pass-through corridor space was renovated and expanded to provide a new resident amenity and support a full complement of dedicated spaces for fitness, social, cultural, spiritual and personal development programs.  
The Viva Bistro offers healthy, made-to-order selections, specialty coffees, wood-fired oven pizzas, and other light fare in a vibrant casual dining venue for residents, staff members and guests.  Bathed in natural light, the bistro features pops of bold color, rich wood tones, and casual seating options including a mix of tables, booths and banquettes. 
The bistro leads into a reading room to provide overflow seating while taking advantage of the synergies between the two spaces where guests can read the local newspaper, play cards or enjoy WiFi access. Other complementary spaces, including a billiard room, game room, outdoor plaza, business center, arts and crafts room and new 34-seat movie theater, are also located nearby, increasing foot traffic around the bistro. 
Natural wood-grain patterned tile flooring was selected to provide a casual, welcoming design aesthetic while respecting the space’s functional role as a well-traveled connection between resident apartments and the new wellness and welcome center.  Now this is accomplished in a lively, inviting space that greets passers-by with the sights and smells of coffee brewing.  

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10.  Cornerstone MRC [Texarkana, Texas]

Total renovation cost: $230,000
Cost per square foot: $85
Residents Served: Independent Living
Photos (after): © Michael Lowry Photography
Part of a $3 million renovation and a realization of the vision to provide the latest features in both living space and services to its residents, Methodist Retirement Communities transformed its dining commons into a more service oriented, luxuriously appointed dining and living area. 
The entire dining area was gutted, removing half walls and faux columns to open up the space for more functional use and dramatic fixtures and furniture. A soft and sophisticated palette of beiges and blues updated the existing drab finishes. The existing private dining was relocated and replaced with a bistro. The bistro is a light food service venue. These improvements to the dining allow Cornerstone to extend services hours and function to their residents. A focal point of the dining corridor, the sun room punctuates the end of the dining room with a beautiful sitting area bathed in natural light. 
A great deal of coordination went into planning the phased construction of this project. There were many different parts of the building undergoing renovations to reposition the community within the Northeast Texas market. The dining and private dining areas were partitioned with temporary walls while main street/corridor circulation from the main entrance remained open. A key component of the overall renovation, the dining commons portion of the project was completed on schedule and in ten weeks. 
As part of the process, the design team engaged the residents early on, and even before the work had begun the residents were so excited about the upgrades that they began spreading the word with their off-site friends, bringing more guests and potential residents into the community. The community reports another benefit: more guests! The residents are noticeably proud of their “new” campus and are inviting friends, children, and grandchildren to join them in their renovated common area, the atrium. With its newly found elegance, the atrium draws residents, family, visitors immediately as they enter the community. 

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