Expanding and Updating Dining Venues
The main goal of this dining renovation and expansion was to provide a casual contemporary dining experience while also accommodating additional residents thanks to a new independent living product introduced on the campus. Casual dining was expanded and formal, full-service dining received a refresh in a more intimate restaurant space. As the only on-campus dining available to independent living residents, the kitchen and a portion of the dining area had to be functional throughout the carefully phased updates.
Building on the Popularity of Casual Venues
The tavern has always been a popular space with residents who frequently gather for pre-dinner happy hours. Many residents liked to remain in the tavern for dinner, but there was rarely enough seating. We incorporated two rarely used adjacent dining rooms to create a larger, less formal venue modeled after a local Williamsburg-style pub.
In the casual bistro expansion and addition, display cooking now brings the sights and sounds of food preparation out into the dining area as well as giving residents more opportunities to interact with those preparing their meals. The appealing colonial elements were maintained, but updated with a fresh and natural color scheme that reflects the vibrancy of the adjacent patio and the campus landscaping visible through the large storefront-style windows.
We replaced formerly obtrusive acoustic panels in the formal dining venue with panels that blend into the surroundings, but still help with acoustics in the space. Wait stations are now smaller and in less obtrusive locations allowing the food and ambiance to take center stage instead of the serving utilities. Additionally, soft seating added around the refaced two-sided fireplace not only serves as a focal point, but to also offer diners a comfortable place to sit while waiting to be seated for dinner.
Introducing an Outdoor Dining Option
An new outdoor patio area provides an al fresco dining opportunity. This popular new space features dining tables, a pavilion, fire pit and outdoor grilling area. Community gardens needed to be relocated to make room for the dining addition and patio. Residents, initially resistant to moving their gardens, were satisfied with replacement gardens in a new location and the new space has become a well-loved amenity for all residents.
On the tight site, a new maintenance building needed to sit directly beside the expanded patio. Thus, this service building received a higher level of detail/finishes including a herringbone brick detail inset into stucco wall, a partially bricked façade, as well as a roof that coordinates with the adjacent dining gazebo to make the back of the building a feature instead of an eyesore. Additionally, the existing pond located only steps away from the expanded patio needed special considerations and protection both while the renovations were in progress and after completion to keep the view to the pond open. Instead of taller shrubbery, groundcover plantings allow for unobstructed views.
Award: Environments for Aging Remodel-Renovation Competition Bronze Winner
“What an upgrade for the lives of the residents and guests. The addition of casual dining and outdoor dining complements the services already provided and rounds out the offering with an understated elegance. I appreciated the effort taken to break a large space into more intimate “rooms” that provide great scale. The colors, textures, patterns are selected to engage, but not overpower, the individual entering the space. The storefront windows connect the outdoor spaces with the indoor areas nicely. I also appreciate the attention to the view shed and additional work done on the maintenance building to enhance the experience for those on the patio. The display cooking in the casual dining area creates an energetic and engaging experience as well.”
Photography Credit: Nathan Cox Photography
Waverly Heights’ community center updates focused on dining venues and wellness spaces, and also provided a more open and welcoming entry experience. The former reception area was replaced with a concierge desk and the corridor was widened to provide a contemporary seating area that reflects the vernacular of Philadelphia’s Main Line. Connections to a 100-year-old mansion on the campus are now a highlight of the first impression by showcasing the historical building’s exposed stone walls.
A Fresh Approach to Food Preparation and a New Attitude Toward Dining
The casual dining experience transitioned from a predictable cafeteria style service with behind the scenes food preparation to a front and center display of food preparation at its finest. The transformation supports dining service and production changes allowing an emphasis on farm-to-table ingredients and made-to-order selections, as well as increased chef engagement with residents. The new scatter-style food stations utilize up-to-date technology innovations to keep foods precisely hot or cold for longer times while helping to alleviate circulation issues and resulting wait times associated with the former cafeteria style set-up. Removing walls that separated the dining areas from the serving lines allowed more natural light into the space and created an open and appealing setting that elevates the food preparation process.
The updated Atrium Dining Room provides full-wait service selections, prepared in the updated display kitchen, along with courtyard views though a towering glass wall. A new, intimate scale formal dining room features a distinctive wine wall element that is visible from the corridor. All of the updated dining areas take full advantage of natural light and outdoor connections while highlighting the existing architectural detailing.
Wellness Expansion within the Existing Infrastructure
Wellness center updates included enlarging the pool to accommodate lap swimming and aquatic classes, adding a new aerobics/dance studio, and new massage and manicure/pedicure rooms as part of a relocated and expanded salon. A major challenge was lengthening the existing pool to better serve aerobic and lap exercising needs without an addition to the building. The solution involved working with residents and staff members to find suitable alternate locations for an existing art studio and clubroom to free up the needed expansion space. Fortunately, the existing structural framing allowed for a straightforward, but unique expansion with acoustic ‘airfoil’ baffles that add aesthetic appeal as well as functional value.
Award: Environments for Aging (EFA) Remodel-Renovation Competition Gold Winner
“Not only were the aesthetics greatly enhanced, this team fundamentally improved the important functions of these wonderful spaces. This remodel added interactive and highly mobile spaces versus just remodeling more “sitting areas” which is too common in our profession. This very attractive remodel draws people into the spaces and celebrates added choice and enhanced lifestyle!”
Photo Credit: Nathan Cox Photography