Design Center

House of Welcome at North Shore Senior Center

Type of Facility/Setting: Alzheimer’s Adult Day Care Center

Owner: North Shore Senior Center; Susan Bediz, (847) 784-6022

Chief Administrator: Sandi Johnson, (847) 784-6022

Architecture & Interiors: Behles + Behles; Ken Behles, (847) 864-0440

Planning Consultant: Uriel Cohen, School of Architecture & Urban Planning, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, (414) 229-6481

¬2004 Paul J. Hydzik/
Photography: ¬2004 Paul J. Hydzik/; Behles + Behles

Occupant Capacity: 24 participants, 8 staff

Total Project Area (sq. ft.): 7,870

Construction Cost: $1,141,000

Cost/Sq. Ft.: $145

Making tracks

All aboard! Destination: the North Shore Senior Center campus’s House of Welcome, where planners and architects have creatively converted a trackside warehouse along an abandoned Union Pacific rail line into a bright, new adult day care center for the community’s seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Staff and participants recently made tracks to their new location from three former satellite group centers that served just eight adults each.

¬2004 Paul J. Hydzik/

Behles + Behles

“Our adult day care program,” explains Julie Lamberti, program director for NSSC, “evolved over 20 years within diverse settings, including a church basement and two group homes. With our new adult day care facility just steps away from our existing 40,000-sq.-ft. Senior Center, we can share resources, achieve more efficient staffing, and offer more comprehensive care. The transition from smaller, somewhat independent operations to our new, larger center has been a bit of adjustment for our staff, many of whom have been with us for more than 15 years.” She adds, “But now the synergy of our team and the beautiful new facility have strengthened our program, and the excitement and gratitude of our participating and visiting families have been very rewarding and have resulted in a waiting list for new participants.”

¬2004 Paul J. Hydzik/

¬2004 Paul J. Hydzik/

The new facility allows NSSC to provide more diverse amenities, such as hot lunches and access to a multiuse gym. Also offered are services NSSC could not, in its previously fragmented structures, provide, such as hair care and bathing/spa services, podiatry, and more discreet toileting with storage space for changes of clothing.

Ken Behles, AIA, architect and principal with Behles + Behles, shares some of the unique challenges and outcomes encountered with the adaptation of older commercial structures: “Giving a two-story concrete block warehouse ‘residential character’ started with humanizing the scale of the entry side with the addition of wooden arbors at a one-story height, providing both sun control and a complement to the garden landscaping. Skylights, bay windows, and new surfacing of the building’s walls complete the exterior, while a combination of low ceilings and high, dramatic cathedral ceilings offers a mix of both active and quiet, intimate settings,” he explains.

The floor plan provides good separation for activities, observation, and access to staff; dispersed and conspicuous restrooms; and private and discreet areas for personal hygiene. Special consideration was given to interior design, with such touchstones of memory care as soft but bright, indirect lighting; calming, low-contrast colors with little or no pattern to agitate participants; and finishes selected for high-use cleaning and service.

I think these tracks lead to a successful project for the bringing together of staff, families, programs, and facilities while creatively reusing a site and structure ideally located next to NSSC’s main building and central to its service area. ¬2004 Paul J. Hydzik/

Behles + Behles
Behles + Behles
Behles + Behles
Behles + Behles

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