In 2018, leaders with the Glen Retirement System noticed that Shreveport, Louisiana had no options for active adult senior living.
Now, the life plan community’s active adult building pays homage to Acadian architecture and traditional southern style, akin to houses and estates from Dallas to Atlanta. For Glen, a new 55+ community’s goal would be to fit the campus while being its own entity, according to Liz Petersen, associate principal with architecture and design firm Hord Coplan Macht.
“[Glen] President and CEO Debra Williams wanted it to be a statement, yet fully anchor the rest of the community,” Petersen told Senior Housing News.
The Glen Retirement System was financially secure at the time the building was commissioned, but the ownership and board of directors wanted to take an aggressive step in securing the community’s growth and stability.
A tribute to Southern style that is driving occupancy, the life plan community’s 55+ building – now called Redbrook – is the centerpiece to the community and a tribute to local culture with an additional 60 units of active independent living for adults aged 55 and older, and placed No. 1 in the 2022 Senior Housing News Architecture & Design Awards’ 55+ category.
Acadian architecture in Louisiana traces its roots to French Canadian settlers who came to the region in the 18th century, according to the state’s Office of Cultural Development.
“The Acadian-style architecture includes elements like a steep-sloped roof with extra space for gathering — and so does the Glen including the shape of the building, the location of the entry being a focal point,” said Petersen.
On the exterior, the designers picked a regional brick style and included a lot of siding to align with the full community. The building also includes a metal rail balcony system similar to popular designs in New Orleans, according to Petersen.
That balcony system comprises a base with a thin vertical line on the balcony railings, with Petersen saying, “I think that was one of the strongest architectural elements that we got right – the rhythm and location of those lines.”
There are big, sweeping porches wrapping around the outside of the building, a traditional style of Southern design.
On the grounds of the Redbrook are aquatic elements that include a retention pond in the front of the building and a natural pond on the backside of the building. Unlike the front-facing retention pond, the back pond connects via waterway to the Pierre Bayou and has “snakes and alligators in it,” said Petersen.
The civil engineering team reshaped the pond to meander through the backside of the campus and added a few fountains as well as a walking trail with seating for a place of relaxation and exercise.
As for the front-facing retention pond, designers had a more practical purpose in mind. According to the design team, the purpose of the pond is to help drain water that could regularly flood the building’s front lawn during a hurricane or tropical storm.
Also of traditional character, a porte-cochere drop-off feeds into the main amenities and features of the community.
“When you come in, there’s a beautiful lobby; but, then it pops up to this enormous two-story space,” Petersen said. “And that acts as the hub. It’s really a gathering space before you go into dining.”
The Redbrook offers two dining options; a bistro for casual dining located right next to the gathering space and a more formal dining area near the other side of the space.
On the second floor of the two-story gathering space, residents can visit a library that overlooks the common space. It has a club-like atmosphere that Petersen said makes it feel as though “You’ve pulled the exterior into the building. It has a lot of southern charm to it.”
Half of the units in the building are one-bedroom apartments, some of which include a den and come in around 725 square feet. The other half are two-bedroom apartments that are about 950 square feet.
One major selling point, according to Petersen, is that each unit has French doors that open to a private balcony. The units all have kitchens and walk-in closets and are WiFi integrated.
When the contractors broke ground on what would become the Redbrook, the Covid-19 pandemic was less than five months away and Hurricane Ida would follow about one year later.
The hurricane is what Petersen remembers most. “There was a lot of water damage where the contractors would have to rebuild some stuff,” she said.
contractor – Lincoln Builders – also found it difficult to not only find some of the materials needed but to make sure that material was delivered.
“They’d say that something was at the dock and it would never show up,” Petersen said. For example, “We paid for our brick and then the supplier sent it off to another job. What do you do but laugh, right?”
The interior design was done by Lizabeth Jones Interior Design, a Boulder, Colorado-based design firm that specializes in health care and senior living communities.
Lincoln Builders and Hord Coplan Macht finished the 91,000-square-foot building in 2022 and welcomed guests in July 2022 – one year later than they’d originally planned.
Still, The Glen Retirement System would only exceed its $25 million dollar budget by about $500,000. And the overage was due in large part to the board approving additional features, not project delays or overruns, Petersen said.
Outside, residents can enjoy fishing piers, gardens, a gazebo and a firepit. These are in addition to the amenities that are offered at the memory care and assisted living portions of the community like an indoor pool, yoga room and a variety of dining options.
And as for how residents have embraced the Redbrook, Petersen said simply, “It’s full.”
She added that the 55+ independent living population and the building have increased the social aspect of The Glen Retirement System as a whole. And, it’s beautiful.
“You’re driving by and … think, ‘This is beautiful, I want to live here,’” she said. “There are very active residents living there. TGRS is taking advantage of the long-range planning that the board put together.”