Phoebe Ministries identified Emmaus as an underserved market opportunity for a satellite community. Following the sale of the Rodale publishing company, the 38-acre headquarters was vacated. This unique property led to the vision for Chestnut Ridge at Rodale, a wellness-focused residential community for ages 62 and up that embraces the Rodale values of melding fitness, organic dining, and wellness.
The community will evolve in phases, beginning with adaptive reuse of the former Rodale offices into 122 apartments. The three-story office building will be converted into one and two-bedroom apartments with a center courtyard. An adjacent one-story office building will be replaced with a four-story, horseshoe-shaped apartment building featuring views of nearby South Mountain.
The vacated office campus provided a unique opportunity to engage with the town while creating a distinctive, pedestrian-friendly campus that continues Rodale values relating to health and vitality. An existing onsite childcare center will continue operation and Phoebe intends to develop intergenerational programming. An adjacent service garage that was most recently used as a farmer’s co-op has been converted into the welcome center and sales office. When Chestnut Ridge opens, this building is envisioned to function as a farmer’s market. Likewise, a former warehouse now houses a full-size apartment mock-up, with future plans for it to serve as a resource for the greater community, potentially housing the Emmaus Arts and Innovation Center.
Chestnut Ridge at Rodale will maintain and enhance the walking and biking trails on the campus while creating new amenities including an amphitheater for both residents and neighbors. Construction will seek to limit the disturbance of the existing green space, take advantage of existing parking lots, and promote residents’ experience of the natural setting.
Building on the Rodale legacy, Phoebe will include raised gardens, programmed courtyards, and walking trails connected to the adjacent nature preserve, as well as sustainable features such as a green wall at the new exterior entrance into the courtyard in the former office building and a green roof for the natatorium. A new amphitheater transitions up to the park and the design concepts maintain the existing trees as a backdrop to the amphitheater.
Technology to support aging in place
All apartments are equipped with smart technology infrastructure and include a base package with lighting and temperature controls that can be supplemented with additional features at move-in or in the future as needed. Residents can choose from a wide array of options for supportive technology, social connections and health tracking/monitoring with the expectation that more features will become available as the technology continues to evolve.
Opening up the center of the former office building provides daylight and views for the converted apartments. The design literally cuts a hole in the center of the building, replacing an enclosed atrium with an open courtyard. A green wall made up of live plants highlights the new opening and is visible from the street. Storefront windows with boxed-out bays and French balconies extend outdoor connections for the homes and help prevent the narrow courtyard space from feeling constricted.
A panelized façade system and a row of trees further help to create an appealing human-scale ceiling for this courtyard which features raised gardens for resident and dining program chef use. In the new building, apartments are sequentially angled in a horseshoe formation for expanded views. The fourth-floor apartments have a taller sloped living room ceiling with transoms above the patio door for even more light.