SFCS By Design 2023: Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Holistic Solutions for Success

August 3, 2023

Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach that collaboratively involves architects, interior designers, and engineers creates a holistic solution for success, according to several case studies presented at the SFCS By Design 2023. 

Case Study #1: Westminster Canterbury 

Originally a seven-story independent living tower built in the 1970s, Westminster Canterbury in Richmond, Virginia (WCR) underwent a renovation starting in 2017 that expanded the number of independent living options, and updated amenities, that accommodated the priorities of today’s seniors: fitness, socialization, and easy mobility around the campus. 

The project was deemed “Vitality” and SFCS has developed several design features to bring WCR’s vision to life including updated dining venues with intimate settings, open kitchens and farm-to-table cuisine, and opening up views to the outdoors with double sided fireplaces and floor to ceiling windows. 

One of the main challenges that mechanical and structural engineers faced on this project was the existing ceiling and structure being fairly low to today’s standards. That presented challenges at every discipline as the team worked together to raise the ceilings as high as possible during renovations. 

In addition to constructing a stunning Rotunda main intersection, with a custom light fixture, the team transformed one single cafeteria to five different spaces that gave seniors more culinary choices and dining experiences.

Case Study #2: Bethany Lutheran Village 

At the heart of Bethany Lutheran Village in Dayton, Ohio, sat an 11-story precast and concrete tower built in the 1970s named Vista Place. In 2019, Bethany Lutheran engaged SFCS to transform Vista Place into a new type of independent living facility. The team used structural modeling software to determine which floors and walls could be modified while still maintaining the tower’s structural integrity, especially in case of an earthquake. 

Large windows and open floor plans were installed in the residential units, as well as a two-story community space that featured a music venue, modern library, and business center. New exterior amenities such as a bocce court, firepit, cornhole court, putting green, and a shaded seating area were also introduced. 

Case Study #3: Bay Village 

Like many senior living communities, Bay Village in Sarasota, Florida was experiencing aging infrastructure, limited common spaces, limited wellness spaces, and no dedicated memory care. SFCS’ team discovered that the 13-story building’s “staggered truss system” limited the architectural options available in renovation. 

The main thrust of the project involved first-floor commons renovations – namely, transforming one single dining room into seven distinct venues for the residents. The renovation also included enhancements to the lobby area, parlor and library, which now features a theater and meditation room, and a new spa and wellness center on the third floor. 

Additional structural engineering, plumbing, architectural, and design challenges emerged throughout the project, which again reemphasized the importance of engaging an interdisciplinary team.

“Many of you have challenging buildings,” said Melissa Pritchard, SFCS Managing Principal. “There’s a lot of potential, even in the buildings you think there’s nothing to be done with.”

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