Rah-rah-rah retirement: Alumni of the University of Texas retire at their alma mater

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Rah-rah-rah retirement: Alumni of the University of Texas retire at their alma mater
Rah-rah-rah retirement: Alumni of the University of Texas retire at their alma mater
Some alumni live and breathe their alma matter. At the University of Texas, ex-students take it even further: They can retire there, too.

Longhorn Village is full of members of the Texas Exes, the U. of T. alumni organization. Roughly 40% of the residents at “LHV” are graduates of the university, according to executive director Bob Rees. The village was developed in association with the alumni group, and its CEO is the board chairman.

The university is about a 15-minute drive from the facility. Residents can enjoy the many cultural, culinary and sports-related programs the university has to offer—and even go back for further education.

Home on the Range

Located on the outskirts of Austin, Longhorn Village is set back in the rolling Texas hills – literally in the hills.  

“The independent living building is carved into a very dense rock formation,” Rees says. “This area has mountains—not really big mountains like Denver—but it's up and down here.”

As part of Steiner Ranch, a surrounding planned residential community, it was important that the three-story senior living community not mar the local landscape and the view. From the main road, LHV appears no taller than a one-story building, according to Frank W. Rees Jr. of Rees Associates, the architecture firm that designed and built LHV–no relation to Bob Rees.

Practical practicum

The unique relationship between the university and the facility comes with more than just social and sports benefits. The new health center gets its fair share of young workers and researchers from the school's various colleges.

“The school of nursing uses LHV as a laboratory, the sociology school uses it as a laboratory, the gerontology school uses it as a laboratory,” Frank Rees says. “There's a very [healthcare-oriented] association between U. of T. and Longhorn Village.”

“Students will actually rotate and do their clinical and practicum work out here,” Bob Rees elaborates.

Clydesdale care

In addition to its 211 independent living apartments and villas, Longhorn Village boasts a three-story healthcare clinic. The building contains three levels of licensed care, with 16 memory care units, 20 assisted living units and 60 skilled care units.

There's a practical design reason for splitting off the healthcare building, Frank Rees says. Mixing together independent living, assisted living and healthcare suites into a single building creates a hodge-podge of awkward—and expensive—design challenges. He likens it to members of the animal kingdom:

“It's kind of like, you've seen Clydesdale horses, and they're big and muscular, and you've seen thoroughbreds, and they've got little bitty spindly legs, and you've seen a camel, and that's a combination of stuff and it doesn't do anything very well,” Frank Rees notes. “In this case, the assisted living stacks on itself, the nursing stacks on itself, dementia care is only one level, and we don't have any compromises having to be made to fit the needs of that level of care."


Lessons Learned:

-Associating a retirement community with a large university is a good way to ensure a built-in client base

-Separating the healthcare center from other buildings makes design and construction easier

-Building into hillsides or bluffs can preserve the local landscape and view, particularly in a planned residential area