Mount Tabor senior living community unveils new memory care addition
As baby boomers age, the demand for memory care facilities in senior living communities has grown.
The Courtyard at Mt. Tabor, for example, was able to provide services to 20 people at a single memory care facility called The Atrium on its campus along Southeast Division Street in Portland. However, the facility often found itself faced with more requests than available rooms.
With an eye toward helping better meet demand, the facility last week unveiled
Pavilion, a new 16,000-square-foot building, to help expand its memory care services. The latest addition contains 17 single-occupancy rooms and six double-occupancy rooms as well as a level of underground parking.
Designing and building memory care facilities requires an attention to detail that goes beyond typical residential buildings. The new building, designed by Ankrom Moisan, is a "donut" shape, which creates an easy path for residents to walk for exercise without having to worry about getting lost in a maze of hallways. The center space is filled with a courtyard feature, outdoor seating, greenery and raised beds that residents will use for gardening activities.
The new addition also features modern approaches that use design, including choices of materials and color schemes, to create a safe environment for residents. The state of Oregon even has an entire section of its building codes dedicated to requirements for senior living and memory care facilities, Geris Appelo, senior generations program director for the Courtyards at Mt. Tabor, told the Business Tribune.
Because many residents are affected by cognitive issues, white-on-white color schemes were avoided. Toilet seats in residents' bathrooms feature a regular white base with a darker-toned seat and lid. Carpets with low-pile feature muted patterns, avoiding large dark areas, which can often create confusion for people with vision issues. Bare floors in areas such as the dining room and bedrooms are wood-simulated vinyl, a material that's easy to clean while also offering a smooth surface to accommodate wheels on walkers.
"A lot of thought goes into the materials," Micah Stout, project manager for R&H Construction, told the Business Tribune. "You want them to be pleasing, but ... it's important to maintain safety."
The facility is required by the state to maintain certain levels of lighting for residents, so light, in general, was highly important in the design of the new facility. Large windows flood interior spaces, from the dining area to a television area, with natural light. Even the paint on the walls had to meet a certain level of reflectivity, Stout said.
While R&H Construction had worked on a courtyard project for the previous owner of the Courtyard at Mt. Tabor, this was the first project for the current owner, Strategic & Senior Housing, a public non-traded real estate investment trust sponsored by SmartStop Asset Management LLC. In addition to memory care services at The Atrium and Pavilion and assisted living services at a facility called The Park, the Courtyard at Mt. Tabor's Southeast Division Street campus provides independent living accommodations for 199 residents at a facility called The Plaza.
The plans for the Pavilion addition were already underway when the new owner assumed control last year, Jessica Moon, the Courtyard at Mt. Tabor's director of sales and marketing, told the Business Tribune. However, even with plans in place, the memory care addition project came with several unknowns.
The campus is built on the site of a former reservoir, so the area features a high degree of fill. However, there were no maps or details about how much or what type of fill had been used. Soon after excavation started, crews found that while half of the site was indeed fill that could be removed relatively easily, the other half was bedrock.
"That was probably one of the most significant challenges early on," Stout said.
The hurdle didn't stop the project for long, however. The project team brought in what was basically a big jackhammer on a backhoe to break up the rock.
"That went on, off and on, for about three weeks," Stout said. "The residents loved watching that."
Rooms with a view
The new addition was built while the other buildings on the campus were fully occupied. That meant R&H Construction and its subcontractors had to take extra steps to keep residents, staff and visitors safe and maintain open lines of communication.
Throughout construction, project managers held monthly meetings with residents living on the campus. The sessions included updates on the design-build work being done, information about future work planned, and photos and videos of the progression of construction.
Watching the project move forward was an everyday activity for some residents in the Plaza community. A nearby existing campus building featured a wing that overlooked the project site. When the project started, the staff set up viewing areas with chairs. As a result, it wasn't at all uncommon for R&H and its crew to have an audience during workdays, Stout said. Some events, however, drew larger crowds than others.
"One of our favorite photos of the job was from an early morning concrete pour that took place at 5:30 a.m.," Stout said. "One of our site guys sent us a photo."
In the photo, a boom pumping concrete dominates the image. In a window of a building in the background are the silhouettes of residents of the senior living community who rose early to catch the action.
The residents made up a large portion of the approximately 200 people who showed up for a grand opening of the new addition on Thursday, Oct. 31, according to Moon. A resident who suggested the event include a topping-out ceremony even rode in a cherry-picker to help place a fir tree decked out with red, gold and silver ornaments on the top of the new building.
Less than one week later, the new facility's first resident was settled in, with more slated to arrive. However, rooms are still available and tours can be scheduled seven days a week, Moon said.
The addition took approximately one year to complete, a tight timeline that Moon said was possible because of R&H's extensive experience building senior living projects.
R&H Construction's Stout also noted a strong sense of teamwork helped the Courtyard at Mt. Tabor addition project stay on track.
"Your architect, your operator and the contractor really have to work together as a team to identify how they're going to use the building and make sure it meets all requirements," Stout said.
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