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Building Design Knocks Down Walls in Senior Living

SENIOR LIVING EXECUTIVE MAGAZINE

Argentum Senior Living by Design Award Winners

December 20th 2016

Simple designs, natural light and clear views of the majestic outdoors dominated this year's Senior Living by Design winners. Communities increasingly are looking for ways to bring the outdoors inside and take residents closer to nature whether it's providing virtual stargazing or encouraging residents to harvest their own herbs and vegetables to add to their daily menu.

This year's winners are found unique ways to deal with design challenges while renovating an existing property. Cedarbrook Senior Living in Michigan used the site's unique topography to create a unified community and Hillcrest Country Estates in Nebraska used a newly built Rehab Cottage to unify its campus. Meanwhile, The Dogwood Memory Care Neighborhood in Connecticut used a 100-year old oak tree as the central organizing theme of a community addition.

The creation of engaging and unique social settings continues to be an important design element in senior living communities, especially because social interaction is scientifically proven to lead to healthier living. Rose Villa in Oregon is designed to appear like a small town with its amenities that have the look and feel of individually branded businesses. And, as Autumn Leaves of Westover Hills in Texas focuses exclusively on memory care, the community offers opportunities for residents to be social in three enclosed courtyards, a figure-eight design with a completely open pathway and an open kitchen that encourages residents to engage with family and friends...

Rose Villa
Portland, Oregon
Myhre Group Architects


The newly built Rose Villa was designed to look like a small town. The community is primarily intended for active seniors seeking an independent living community, but it also provides supportive living, skilled nursing and flexible residences.

"The design team envisioned the project to be a sustainable and pedestrian-oriented campus that is connected to the surrounding neighborhood and community," according to Whitney Allred, marketing manager, Myhre Group Architects.

Rose Villa offers 218 residences providing for varying levels of resident independence. Newly built garden cottages are nestled inside pocket neighborhoods, creating a community within a community and allowing residents to connect with their neighbors, while apartments allow residents to live in a more lively and urban setting with active storefronts and community events. Existing cottages were fully renovated and offer independent living without the responsibility of managing everyday homeowner tasks. Blue Fingerprint technology allowed the Rose Villa design team to work with residents in customizing interior finishes and selecting a color palette.

The design goal was to make Rose Villa look and operate like a small town, with the town center functioning as a gathering place for community events, such a farmer's market, said Allred. The town center offers amenities such as a rooftop cocktail lounge, a performing arts center and a variety of restaurants featuring farm-fresh, organic cuisine. Additional amenities include a newsroom, caf, garden nursery, full-service salon, and wellness center, and they are all designed to look and operate as individually branded businesses, Allred added.

The Senior Living by Design judges noted that the urban setting and town center make Rose Villa a distinctive property. "What makes this design unique is the true town center which makes it feel like more than just a retirement community," said Senior Living by Design judge O'Neill. "Inside and out, the project draws on the Northwest setting, referencing local materials and a strong aesthetic," said Senior Living by Design judge Bongort.


Blue Fingerprint Technology
Rose Villa
Portland, Oregon


Residents who move into Rose Villa are able to pick from many home design options using Blue Fingerprint Technology, which immediately tells them the actual price of their selection and alerts the contractor to their custom choices. Canvis, a software company in Des Moines, Iowa, developed this innovative technology.

"Making your home your home is really important to people," said Sadie Bach, Rose Villa transitions coordinator. Bach worked with each resident to discuss every design option and customize their home. "Many residents are moving from a home they have been in as long as 50 years," Bach said. "Personalizing their new home and making it their own is important."

Residents were offered four different palettes of coordinated finishes developed by Myhre Group Architects in Portland. "We were tasked with creating multiple packages and options without it being overwhelming," said Lisa Warnock, principal at Myhre Group. One of the challenges was providing enough options without making it difficult for the residents to make a decision. Another challenge was the contractor had to pre-price each possible option that a resident could choose.

Customized options included flooring, lighting, paint, storage, kitchen cabinets, sinks, blinds, pet fencing and even specialty toilets, Bach said. And, if the resident didn't like the options offered, they could create their own.

"Residents could elect to go fully custom and engage with the architect," Warnock said. For instance, one resident loved the color green and that wasn't provided as an option so that resident worked with Myhre Group to create it. Another couple wanted their home to look like a loft so Myhre custom designed their home to be open with fewer walls, Warnock said.

Although all the residences are built and customized, and everyone has moved in, if someone was to move out, a new resident would have the same opportunity to use Blue Fingerprint Technology and customize their home, Bach said.

Another benefit of the technology, Bach said, is it documents every option the resident picks and keeps it organized, from the biggest to the smallest request. When building the residences, contractors would print out the information and refer back to it. Bach also used it to do walk-throughs when she double checked each home before residents moved in. "It provided a great checklist," Bach said.