By blending hospitality and residential design principles, a comfortable and supportive senior living setting was created for The Springs in Tucson, Ariz. Opening in April 2017, the 75,000-square-foot skilled nursing and hospice community is part of The Hacienda at the River, a 7.5-acre campus owned by Watermark Retirement Communities (Tucson, Ariz.), which also offers assisted living, memory care, and on-site equine therapeutic programming.

The Springs comprises 12 hospice beds in a one-story building and 50 short-term care beds and 14 long-term care beds in a two-story skilled nursing building. Each skilled nursing unit contains 14-15 rooms and a dedicated gathering space and outdoor balcony. An internal courtyard, dining hall, and healing garden connect the two buildings.

Large open spaces, such as dining and living areas, were planned with smaller, more intimate zones within them that break down the scale and feel more residential. Outdoor gathering spaces and intimate second-story balconies provide resort-style amenities.

Designers from CallisonRTKL (Los Angeles) maximized the community’s location along the Rillito River in Tucson to provide access to fresh air and natural light, with operable windows providing cross ventilation and views of nearby mountains, the river, and the community’s internal courtyard. Design strategies, such as limiting the size of the windows, help mitigate heat gain and sun glare.

A Southwestern vernacular was used in the interior and exterior architecture, inspired by Tucson-based modernist architect Josias Thomas Joesler. Earth-toned stucco walls blend with the local landscape and are coupled with a light-colored materials palette and a red tile roof, which serve as a passive cooling technique to limit solar and heat gain within the context of the hot, sunny locale. Inside, exposed wood-beam ceilings and polished, colored concrete flooring are paired with bright white walls, lending a modern spin to the old-world aesthetic.


Project Source List: 

Client: The Freshwater Group, Inc./Watermark Hacienda Tucson, LLC

Architect: CallisonRTKL

Consulting architect: Indevco Partners

Structural: J.A. Martin & Associates


Interiors: Goebel Interiors

Landscape: GRS Landscape Architects

Food Service: Corsi Associates

Civil: Presidio Engineering

General Contractor: The Weitz Company