Design Decisions: The Pavilion at Queens

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The “home” therapy center helps residents focus on the goal of ultimately returning to their own homes, its creators say.
The “home” therapy center helps residents focus on the goal of ultimately returning to their own homes, its creators say.

With a brick façade, white picket fence, vintage porch lights, flowered window boxes and a car in the driveway, the quaint little cottage has a tremendous amount of curb appeal. 

And while it would be an asset to any street, this home is actually a showplace inside The Pavilion at Queens for Rehabilitation & Nursing in New York.

The head-turning house isn't just a novelty decoration to impress visitors, however. It is a bona fide therapy center designed to help rehab patients re-learn practical routines like getting in and out of a car, picking up the mail and unlocking the front door. 

The structure also has a furnished interior so patients can practice doing laundry, washing dishes and other household chores.

Gerry Fuchs, principal at Kennedy Management and COO of The Pavilion at Queens, says his team came up with the idea when they discussed a renovation that would help short-term residents go home. 

Just the concept of going home became an “aha!” moment for determining the focus on the redesign, he says.

Reality check

“We wanted a ‘home' experience inside the gym,” Fuchs recalls. “The concept of a ‘home within a home' came to me as I looked at my own house. It's all about going home. By seeing an actual home, residents will realize that is their own goal and will always have their eyes on the prize.”

Seeds of the renovation were sown in January 2015 when Fuchs and administrator Richard Sherman were evaluating the 302-bed skilled nursing facility, constructed in 1997. 

At that time, the rehab center was in the basement, which both men agreed needed to be moved.

“We discussed relocating the rehab center to the main floor and expanding it to 3,000 square feet,” Sherman recalls. 

“We had a multipurpose room that was ideal and it bordered on rooms that we could take away to open it up even more,” he added.

Rapid progress

Once construction got underway in July 2015, the $250,000 renovation took only four months to complete. 

At the grand opening, held the week before Thanksgiving, sounds of Simon & Garfunkel's “Homeward Bound” filled the air. In fact, the “going home” theme recurs in nearly every detail, Fuchs says, right down to Smart Start and Life cereal in the kitchen.

Gerry's wife, Aliza Fuchs, served as a designer for the project and says she's amazed at how fast it came together and how well the team solved challenges such as space utilization.

“When we came up with the concept, we wondered if we really could do it,” says Aliza, a designer with FLDG. “We had a concern that we wouldn't have enough room and that it wouldn't fit. But this team just kept working together and it turned out to be a really special experience.”

The rehab center is one phase of an ongoing renovation at The Pavilion at Queens. The lobby, post-acute units and resident rooms also are all being upgraded.