Built from the ground up

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Built from the ground up
Built from the ground up

It's hard to miss the enormous V-shaped, 18-floor high-rise northeast of Cincinnati's downtown area. And that's just how the owners and construction engineers of the upscale Stratford at Kenwood like it.

The continuing care retirement community, which opened in the spring, sprawls over 20 acres and comprises 215 independent living units, 25 assisted living apartments, 12 skilled nursing units, 12 Alzheimer's units and 24 condos.

The $75 million facility, which was originally supposed to be only 10 floors, had nowhere to go but up once the architects and construction engineers realized the proposed site was located on the side of a hill. This posed a significant geo-technical design challenge, says Todd Goodrich, vice president of Paric Corp., part of the joint venture Paric/Ruscilli, which built the facility.

The builders eventually overcame the challenge by shrinking the footprint of the Kenwood in terms of acreage and increasing its height. Goodrich's team still finished the project under budget.

“The biggest challenge became the biggest advantage,” Goodrich says. “The views from the building are extraordinary. If I had to pick a place to live, the view would definitely be a big factor.”

The Kenwood's Moonlight Lounge exemplifies his reasoning. Located on the top floor, where the V-shaped building comes together, the Moonlight Lounge has skylights and a balcony with unobstructed views of Cincinnati at night. Stargazers also can view the nearby Kentucky River and the property's own landscaped waterfalls, courtyards and walking paths.

But the Kenwood offers more than great views and attractive landscaping. The height of the building contributes to its continuum of care, according to Goodrich: “Because we shrunk the footprint, it went up vertically, which makes it more accessible. By pulling the building up, there's less navigation and walking involved.”

Both Goodrich and Bill Thomas, the leader of Senior Star Living, the complex's owner/operator, speak proudly of the facility's health services unit. It is a three-story addition connected to the main building and provides assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care.

“The community design reduces the institutional feel often associated with care or skilled nursing facilities,” Thomas says. “The skilled nursing unit is designed to preserve the dignity and privacy of residents.”

Often these units are designed with communal bathing facilities,  but the skilled nursing residents at the Kenwood have bathing facilities in their apartments, he says.

“This design aids in efficiencies while allowing for privacy in care,” Thomas says. “In each area, residents may enjoy the warmth and ambiance of a fireplace and warm and intimate socialization and activity areas.”

Thomas says the Kenwood facility is designed to provide “purposeful living” for residents. To this end, amenities include intergenerational activity areas, a Skype lounge and a family room that serves as a gathering space for visitors.


 Lessons Learned

1. Geographical challenges at building sites can turn out to be design assets

2. It's important to forge strong connections with local businesses and residents near the facility

3. Keep common areas (such as kitchens and guest areas) centrally located to maintain accessibility