Best of Memory Care Design 2014: The Upscale Bed and Breakfast

In memory care design, bigger isn’t always better. And attention to detail is paramount — whether it’s lighting, safe walking paths or the overall aesthetic of the community.

For The Osborn’s H.O.P.E. Center for Memory Care, these characteristics, and more, have pushed the community above its competition.

The H.O.P.E. Center features just 13 private rooms with private baths and comprises less than 7,000 square feet in total. What was once the wing of an existing building was converted in 2013 to an intimate setting fit for the affluent Rye, N.Y. clientele.

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From rich materials to the historical architecture and distinctive artwork, the H.O.P.E. Center provides an elegant environment full of vibrance. Chandeliers and wall sconces highlight the character of the building — a 1930s addition to the existing 1908 structure — while open living spaces make the most of the community’s small scale.

“When it comes to memory care, smaller is better,” says Gene Guszkowski, senior principal at AG Architecture and one of the judges for the 2014 Senior Housing News Design & Architecture Awards. “I really like The Osborn because it’s small in terms of the size of the community itself. It was a clever, sensitive and adaptive reuse of the space.”

The small scale and the level of detail in the community’s design ultimately led judges to award The Osborn’s H.O.P.E. Center for Memory Care top honors in the 2014 SHN awards contest.

But the project wasn’t completed without a few obstacles along the way. Dealing with a narrow, linear space because of the existing infrastructure of the wing presented unique challenges for the design team, which worked to make the H.O.P.E. Center a standout among competitors.

The Concept

At its core, The Osborn’s guiding principle is to “be the finest senior living community that best understands the needs of aging,” says Jane Fox, vice president of marketing and fund development at The Osborn. And, she adds, the H.O.P.E. Center grew out of that.

“Regardless of what structure you own or build, it’s all about the heart of the place — it’s about the staff, the management, the board vision for what it’s going to be. And that’s really reflected in the [community’s] name,” she says.

H.O.P.E. stands for Home setting, Optimism, Passion and Empathy — an acronym that inspires an environment in which residents feel comfortable, are encouraged, have close relationships with staff members and are respected.

RLPS Architects then integrated these qualities into the physical design of the memory care community.

“RLPS took that mission, that strategic focus, and made it into a tangible place where people live,” Fox says. “The whole center is really designed around the idea of having socialization opportunities that are easy for everybody.”

But that didn’t mean sacrificing on the elegance of the space.

“It’s like an upscale bed and breakfast,” says Derek Perini, senior interior designer of RLPS Architects. “It’s very ornate. When you walk in, you would never guess it’s memory care because of the level of detail — but it’s still very comfortable.”

The Construction

Building the H.O.P.E. Center, which sits on 56 acres, took about nine months, and all construction was completed on time in February 2013, Fox says.

The overall project budget for construction and furnishing topped $2 million, reflective of the cost of labor in Rye, N.Y., and the demands and expectations of the market, Perini says. The project was financed through The Osborn’s capital improvement funds and a portion from fundraising.

However, because the community was once a wing of an existing building, the design team ran into a few challenges. Namely, the narrow structure they had to work with.

Still, “they really made the most of the space,” Fox says.

RLPS worked with the structure to develop a corridor that goes down the middle of the community. Halfway down the wing, it opens up completely — with the exception of a few columns. At the center of the community is a hub for dining, socializing and congregating, which is flanked by resident rooms, and at one end of the center, there’s an activity space.

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Adjacent to the community is the Betty Neagle Perennial Garden, a secure garden where residents can walk around and enjoy the outdoors. The other side of the memory care center looks out onto the south lawn, where more than 100 species of trees are planted — classifying the location as an arboretum.

The Completion

The whole process, from concept to completion, took a year and a half, with The Osborn’s H.O.P.E. Center for Memory Care opening for occupancy on March 18, 2013.

While units at the H.O.P.E. Center don’t come cheap — they cost $11,500 per month — residents get what they’re paying for, and that means quality.

“For me, it’s quality versus quantity [at The Osborn]; it’s the style, the interiors, the detailing,” says Dan Cinelli, principal and director at Perkins Eastman, and one of the contest judges. “It’s a very small space, but the quality — of the lighting, the design of the rooms, the rich materials — is really excellent.”

The community’s unit sizes range from 200 to 290 square feet, and the renovated portion of the structure totals 6,424 square feet, with an addition to the structure adding 557 square feet.

Despite its small scale, The Osborn’s H.O.P.E. Center maximizes the space, adding special touches that are unique to memory care design.

For example, the interior decor is designed to help spark residents’ memories. When leaving each of the 13 bedrooms, residents face unique pieces of art, rather than another resident’s room. That artwork is usually photography and is chosen because it’s reminiscent of earlier life, such as a photo of an elementary school girl’s feet crossed, piano keys or bobbins.

“When you come out of your room, you’re not confronted with somebody else,” Fox says. “There’s something there to look at and talk about that’s going to potentially remind you of another time in your life.”

The H.O.P.E. Center reached 100% occupancy within 12 months, and has generated so much interest that the community often has a waitlist, Fox says.

And in the future, The Osborn may even open up another H.O.P.E. Center on site, which would house between 12 to 15 residents.

“We’ve talked about it; it’s probably in the cards for the future,” Fox says. “There’s definitely demand for it.”

In the coming weeks, Senior Housing News will profile each winner from the 2014 SHN Design Awards. View the winners here.

Written by Emily Study

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