The AIA Design for Aging Review (DFAR) released its list of Merit and Special Recognition awards on November 2. The design for the Southington Care Center Memory Care Renovations was awarded a Merit Award. The AIA National DFAR showcases facilities that represent conscientious surroundings and advance environments for Senior Living.
“The design team opened up the common area, still providing spaces for storage and a landing area for staff. A highly decorative CNC screen provided a design feature but also a screen for privacy between staff and resident, not impeding sight lines for safety,” noted the jury. “Details within the space promote socialization, therapy, and thoughtful interaction not only with each other but the space itself.”
Amenta Emma Architects’ senior living team, led by Principal Myles Brown, was tasked with reimagining the institutional feel of the center of the second floor of Southington Care Center, which is home to 65 residents living with varied stages of dementia. “One challenge was to bring natural light and views into the reception area, which has no windows,” says Brown. “By opening up walls and creating an axial connection to the outdoor space, we were able to pull light from the courtyard, through the common room, and into the reception.”
“Myles and the Amenta Emma design team made time to understand the needs of our residents,” says Stephen Barrett, Executive Director of Southington Care Center. “We seek to create an environment that feels like home while incorporating the benefits of nature. The wooden screen by the nurses’ station with the Hartford Healthcare logo cutouts is a creative solution which provides site lines for our nurses while maintaining the home-like setting.”
Jeff Palmer, Director of Connecticut Operations for general contractor C.E. Floyd Company said, “We always look forward to working with Amenta Emma. They create thoughtful, purpose-driven spaces where residents will thrive, while bringing the client’s vision to life. They are a true partner throughout the construction process. All of these traits are critical elements for a successful project.”
The renovation was completed just before the COVID-19 pandemic put senior living communities on lockdown for months. The newly renovated courtyard with shade and vegetable and flower gardens at wheelchair height was the residents’ only access to the outdoors for months. The courtyard overlooks a parking area, where family members and friends could come to wave and speak to their loved ones. “The outdoor visits were invaluable for keeping up the morale of the residents and their loved ones during the heart of the pandemic,” says Barrett. The project was made possible by Main Street Community Foundation, which awarded a $150,000 grant from the Bradley Henry Barnes & Leila Upson Barnes Memorial Trust.