There's no place like home.
Heritage Pointe of Fort Wayne
Fort Wayne, Indiana
21 assisted living apartments; 24 private healthcare suites; 14 memory care suites; 10 rehab care suites; Campus social amenities; Administrative and support spaces; Licensing: 42 Licensed Residential and 96 ICF
EFA Design Showcase Featured Project, Environments for Aging
AIA, LEED AP, Principal
AIA, LEED AP, Principal
The Heritage Pointe of Fort Wayne is a modern senior living facility dedicated to providing a new place for residents to call home. But what exactly does “home” mean in a residential care setting? This project wanted to answer that question.
The Heritage Pointe of Fort Wayne is a newly constructed senior living facility located in Northeast Indiana housing the full continuum of care (assisted living to skilled nursing). From the beginning, the project was focused on understanding how residents could be given the most “home-like” experience possible regardless of their level of care. The project team conducted a series of focused discussions with the owner throughout the design process to define and protect the components that most epitomize the meaning of “home” for residents. In doing so, the finished building not only offers an array of amenities, but also provides unique residential settings dedicated to independence, dignity, and control.
The meaning of “home,” especially for older adults, is a complex thing. Research such as Elaine Cauette’s work entitled Image of a Nursing Home clearly describes our instinct to define the meaning “home” as the overlap of three components: (1) society, (2) the users,
and (3) the built environment. Even though each of these elements is constantly evolving, our perception of “home” exists where these definitions overlap.
The social issues surrounding this idea of “home” are as important as the structure itself, especially in residential care settings. At the Heritage Pointe of Fort Wayne, the design focused intently on providing an experience that prioritized resident choice and social interaction. By consolidating the social functions within the core of the facility, residents from Assisted Living, Nursing, Rehab, and the neighboring independent living cottages could engage in a civic offering of activities and services. More importantly, it created a collection of active spaces for residents, staff, and visitors– providing wonderful spaces for socialization and people watching.
Even though these functions are centralized, they are often buried within the building and hidden from the main public entrance. At HFW, these spaces we treated differently. The design for this campus externalized these services, and not only offered them to every resident but exposed the activity within the building to the surrounding community. The perception of the building by passersby is not of an intimidating institutional building, but
as a bustling place full of people of all ages and abilities. Most notably, the central café
opens itself up to the entrance lobby and is equipped with an array of large windows
opening up to the adjacent courtyard. When weather permits, these windows are opened
and the café is expanded to include the courtyard to host weekly musical performances
by local bands.
To further protect the meaning of “home,” the design was specifically concerned with scale – going from the civic core to the neighborhood to the resident room. The floor plan for each household had a conventional organization, serving 12-15 residents from a central living/dining area. Yet, in discussions with staff, the design attempted to clearly define the difference between the shared common area of the household (public space) and the individual resident rooms (private space). Several design features within the common areas utilized strategies
for urban settings such as public plaza design to encourage choice, mobility, and interaction. A central kitchen island was designed to serve food during meal times and function as a nurse dictation station throughout the remainder of the day with views of resident activity.
At the end of the day, the meaning of “home” has everything to do with the people who live there. At HFW each resident room was considered a private and personal sanctuary where residents had as much control and independence as possible. By providing varying levels
of “permissible space,” progressing from public space to intimate space, staffing procedures were reconsidered to emphasize the privacy of all residents. The intent with this was to give residents the ability to control their level of social engagement and, in turn, define the limits
of their own privacy. The result is a collection of intimate and civic spaces interconnected
by a public circulation network dedicated to offering “a new place to call home.”