Hospitality was the focus of this project, which implemented long-anticipated updates to the community center and outdoor amenities for this University-based retirement community. Opened in 2004, the Village at Penn State had not implemented planned second phase additions until after merging with Liberty Lutheran Services in 2012.
A Unique Partnership Creates Palmer Park Outdoor Amenities
Palmer Park is a first-of-its kind fully landscaped park and gardens, featuring professionally contoured golf putting and practice areas, a village green and a multi-purpose area. Designed and completed by the Arnold Palmer Design Company, Palmer Park includes a nine-hole putting course plus a couple of additional holes that bear all the aspects and storied history of the Arnold Palmer signature brand. The synthetic green requires less maintenance than grass, particularly factoring in the region’s sometimes challenging weather conditions.
Palmer Park is complemented by adjacent gardens, walkways and a bistro terrace for al fresco dining. The terrace features a pergola system for sun control as well as outdoor dining and fire pit seating. The park includes a grass lawn area for natural wellness activities such as croquet and yoga, or special events; a town-square type clock; and a bocce court.
Implementing Phase 2 Community Center Additions
The community center was designed in Phase 1 to function effectively when the Village opened, but was planned from the start to be reoriented and expanded as the community grew. The expansion provides a centralized community hub that creates the desired entry experience and connects resident living spaces with amenities and services. A new entry drive and porte cochere lead into the commons addition which includes a new main lobby, reception, and marketing suite. The existing library was renovated to expand views from the lobby towards Penn State University’s neighboring Beaver Stadium. Additionally, existing corridors received fresh finishes, and the former multi-purpose space and creamery have become the bistro, a new casual dining option featuring a hearth oven and display cooking.
The final piece of the puzzle is a new one-story, 6,200 SF community building. At the center of this building is a 165 seat multipurpose auditorium with raised stage to host, among other things, on-site Road Scholar classes and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) classes. This community gathering space also serves as a conditioned connector between the existing skilled care building, personal care household and the rest of the Village at Penn State community. Other than the cottages on the perimeter of the campus, all buildings are now connected as a result of this community building addition.
The 2011 master plan included renovation and additions to the Clubhouse at Brandermill Woods which allowed the community to enhance their independent living common areas by offering additional amenities that appeal to the incoming Baby Boomers and their families. No longer will a single dining venue, chapel, and stereotypical shuffleboard court be considered enough to sustain and entertain residents. Instead, the new Clubhouse amenities include a theater, party room, game room, formal dining, club room, four-season room, private dining, bistro, multi-purpose space, chapel, fitness room, aerobics room, clinic, pool, terrace dining, private garden, and greenhouse and extensive spaces meant to both support the current cottage and apartment residents and also entice future residents to choose Brandermill Woods as their home. At the same time, 93 new independent living apartments were built adjacent to the new Clubhouse offering residents additional housing options with direct access to the clubhouse.
Photo credit: Nathan Cox Photography
The first step in implementing a campus-wide master plan was updating first impression spaces in the community center. A porte cochere was added outside, while inside the main lobby the focus has been redirected to social areas with the receptionist desk reconfigured as a concierge-style gesture. The café was reconfigured to create a distinctive bistro experience. The library was re-envisioned as a club room to better support the adjacent multi-purpose room. Stairs leading to lower level activity areas were opened up to draw attention to those spaces where finishes and furnishings were updated to maintain a consistent design aesthetic.
The second phase involved creating new venues and breaking down the scale of the dining experiences, as well as expanding and improving wellness venues. Outdoor connections and sustainable strategies are seamlessly integrated into the design solutions. The underutilized courtyard was transformed into a new campus amenity to create engaging outdoor event spaces to complement and enhance the dining and wellness updates.
Award: Environments for Aging Remodel/Renovation Competition, Finalist
Photo Credit (afters): Larry Lefever Photography and Nathan Cox PhotographyLearn more about Wellness
Viva, often translated to “long live,” is an apt description for this welcome center focused on vitality and community engagement. Feathered into a hillside between existing apartment wings, this expansion more than doubled the size of the community center. The welcome center at the main entrance features a two-story lobby and pre-gathering area outside the new 300-person performing arts center. The fitness components of the wellness center include an aquatics center with lap pool and warm water therapy spa, a fitness classroom, cardio equipment room and lockers with changing rooms. The upper level includes a bistro, beauty shop, theater, billiards and terrace with dining grill area and bocce courts.
Awards: Publication in Environments for Aging Design Showcase
Photo Credit: Nathan Cox PhotographyLearn more about Wellness
This project involved the expansion and partial renovation of the CCRC campus within its current boundaries. The expansion of the independent living apartments and a wellness center, new assisted living specifically for memory care, and converting the current memory care into assisted living were all specifically requested. The final master plan detailed multi-phased clubhouse dining expansion and update, and skilled care improvements including a dedicated short-term rehab neighborhood addition.
The Langford at College Station is a successful model for serving a secondary market that at its current size could not sustain a typical life-plan community, but is strong enough for a smaller scale community to thrive.
Recognizing market size, a nearby sister community and the challenges of a greenfield development in today’s marketplace, MRC opted for a first phase smaller CCRC / Life Plan Community enhanced with existing resources in the surrounding community. Partnerships with a local country club, the church next door and MRC’s Bryan community supplement on-site services allowing for less initial financial commitment. Phase 1 includes hybrid homes in the form of condo-style flats with under building parking and interior corridor links to the clubhouse. The clubhouse also connects to assisted living suites and a memory care household. Skilled nursing care and short-term rehabilitation will be provided through a partnership with the sister community.
Hybrid Homes 2.0: Corridor Links to Clubhouse
Developing the community around condo-style hybrid flats allowed for connections between the homes and the clubhouse. The hybrid homes, like the rest of the community, are a smaller scale model than traditional apartment buildings. These residences provide many of the benefits typically found in cottage homes such as covered parking, multiple exposures and private outdoor space, but like many apartment buildings are connected back to the clubhouse for easy and comfortable access to community amenities.
The design of the hybrid homes provides an intimate setting for neighbors to get to know each other since each building has its own “gathering room” for parties, card games, etc. Each residential floor is comprised of six condo-style flats, which eliminates long hallways, increases resident privacy and provides a small scale setting that fosters interaction and a sense of community.
Learn More About Hybrid Homes
Awards: Featured in Environments for Aging Design Showcase
Photo Credits: Nathan Cox Photography and Alise O’Brien Photography