Best Design 55+ 2022: Glen Retirement meets market needs with Southern Charm
In 2018, Glen’s pension executives noticed that there were no options in Shreveport, Louisiana for active seniors.
Now an active adult community building, Life Plan pays homage to Acadian architecture and traditional Southern style, akin to homes and estates from Dallas to Atlanta. According to Liz Petersen, associate director of architecture and design firm Hord Coplan Macht, for Glen, the goal of the new 55+ community will be to fit in with the campus while remaining a separate legal entity.
“[Glen] President and CEO Debra Williams wanted this to be a statement, yet fully supportive of the rest of the community,” Petersen told Senior Housing News.
The Glen’s pension system was financially secure at the time of the building’s commissioning, but the owners and board of directors wanted to take aggressive steps to ensure the growth and stability of the community.
A tribute to Southern style that drives occupancy, the Life Plan 55+ Community Building, now called Redbrook, is a community centerpiece and a tribute to local culture with an additional 60 active independent living units for adults aged 55 and over, and was ranked #1 in the category 55+ Senior Housing News Architecture & Design Awards 2022.
According to the state Cultural Development Authority, Acadian architecture in Louisiana dates back to French Canadian settlers who came to the region in the 18th century.
“Acadian-style architecture includes elements such as a steeply sloping roof with additional meeting space, as well as the Glen, including the shape of the building, where the location of the entrance is the focal point,” Petersen said.
For the exterior, the designers opted for a regional brick style and added plenty of siding to match the entire community. The building also features a metal railing balcony system, similar to popular designs in New Orleans, according to Petersen.
This balcony system includes a base with a thin vertical line on the balcony railing, and Petersen said, “I think it was one of the strongest architectural elements that we got right — the rhythm and arrangement of those lines.”
The outside of the building is surrounded by large wide verandas in a traditional southern style.
There are water features on the Redbooke site, including a pond in front of the building and a natural pond at the back of the building. Unlike the forward-facing settling pond, the rear pond is connected by water to Pierre Bayou and has “snakes and alligators,” Petersen said.
A team of civil engineers reshaped the pond to meander at the back of campus and added several fountains as well as a walking path with seating and sports areas.
As for the forward-facing reservoir, the designers had a more practical goal in mind. According to the designers, the purpose of the pond is to divert water that can regularly flood the building’s front lawn during a hurricane or tropical storm.
Port kosher, also traditional in nature, is associated with the basic amenities and features of the community.
“When you enter, there is a beautiful lobby; but then it pops up in this huge two-story space,” Petersen said. “And it acts as a center. It really is a pre-dinner meeting place.”
Redbroke offers two restaurants; a bistro for informal dining next to the meeting area and a more formal dining area off the other side of the space.
On the second floor of the two-story meeting space, residents can visit the library, which overlooks the common space. It has a club vibe that, according to Petersen, makes it feel like “you pulled the exterior into the building. It has a lot of southern charm.”
Half of the apartments in the building are one-bedroom apartments, some of which include an office and are about 725 square feet. The other half are two-bedroom apartments around 950 square feet.
One of the main benefits, according to Petersen, is that each apartment has French doors leading to its own private balcony. All apartments have a kitchen and dressing room, as well as built-in Wi-Fi.
By the time contractors began building what would become Redbrook, the Covid-19 pandemic was less than five months away, with Hurricane Ida following about a year later.
The hurricane is what Petersen remembers the most. “There was a lot of water damage and the contractors had to repair some things,” she said.
The contractor, Lincoln Builders, also encountered difficulties not only in finding some of the necessary materials, but also in securing the delivery of materials.
“They said there was something on the dock, but it was never found,” Petersen said. For example: “We paid for our brick and then the supplier sent it to another job. What are you doing besides laughing, right?
The interior design was done by Lizabeth Jones Interior Design, a Boulder, Colorado-based design firm that specializes in healthcare and senior living.
Lincoln Builders and Hord Coplan Macht completed the 91,000-square-foot building in 2022 and welcomed guests in July 2022, a year later than they originally planned.
However, Glen’s pension system will only go over its $25 million budget by about $500,000. The excess was largely due to board approval of additional features rather than delays or cost overruns, Petersen said.
Outside, residents can enjoy fishing piers, gardens, a gazebo, and a fire pit. This is in addition to the amenities offered at memory and nursing centers such as an indoor pool, a yoga room, and a variety of restaurants.
As for how the residents received Redbrook, Petersen simply said, “It’s full.”
She added that the independent population over 55 and the building have increased the social aspect of the Glen pension system as a whole. And it’s beautiful.
“You drive by and…think, ‘How beautiful, I want to live here,’” she said. “Very active people live there. TGRS takes advantage of long-term planning developed by the council.”
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