Design Center

Scranton, Pennsylvania
TYPE OF FACILITY/SETTING:Skilled Nursing/Independent Living (low to moderate income)
OWNER:Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged/Holy Family Residence of Scranton, Pennsylvania
CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR:Sister Christine Kruper, (570) 343-4065
ARCHITECTURE:V.S. Riggi Architects, Dunmore, Pennsylvania (570) 961-0357
INTERIOR DESIGN:Pulman Interiors, Dickson City, Pennsylvania (570)383-5466
GENERAL CONTRACTOR:L.R. Constanzo Co., Inc., Scranton, Pennsylvania
PHOTOGRAPHY:¬2003 Guy Cali Associates, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania (interior photos)
RESIDENT CAPACITY:52 SNF beds (all private), 21 Independent Living units
TOTAL PROJECT AREA (SQ. FT.):16,000 total (2nd and 3rd floors)
RENOVATION COSTS:$720,000 to renovate corridors/social spaces and dining
COST/SQ. FT.:$45
Breaking Barriers
As the “institutional” interior architecture of the 1970s, characterized by long hallways, large nurses’ stations, etc., continues to give way to “household” arrangements, Holy Family Residence of Scranton, Pennsylvania, wanted to transform its home to better meet the physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being needs of its residents. The results were discussed by architect Vincent Riggi, AIA, in a recent interview and facility tour with Nursing Homes/Long Term Care Management.

The client, The Little Sisters of the Poor-an international congregation of religious women founded in 1839 in Saint Servan, France, by Jeanne Jugan, dedicated to serving the elderly in more than 30 countries on six continents-first came to Scranton in 1908 with the support of the late philanthropist Martin Maloney. The current residential facility, built in 1976, replaced the original “Maloney Home” and has undergone several upgrades by V.S. Riggi Architects, culminating in the subject renovation made possible by donations, especially from the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

“Our project vision included creating more homelike ‘households,’ a more welcoming focal point than the existing large nurses’ station, and more flexible dining rooms, as well as opening up all of the glass-enclosed sitting rooms that our residents affectionately referred to as ‘fishbowls,'” explains Mother Alice Marie Jones, lsp. “The new layout achieved low-cost removal of the glass walls for a drastic opening up of the area. The cost could be kept low because we already had a sprinkler system installed, which would have been a very costly add-on otherwise,” she notes. “As long as we could still define the circulation and sitting areas with a change in flooring materials, we met state departments of health and life safety rules. We also chose to sacrifice a couple of beds to allow for an even more expanded dining room, and this opening up of space allowed us to bring the activity directors directly onto the unit. The benefits to our residents have been both a closer interaction with staff and the ability to use the kitchen/dining area much like home, with flexible meal times and even opportunities for baking among friends.”

The corridors and social spaces have received all new finishes, and the lighting has been upgraded with indirect fluorescent fixtures and a separate decorative lighting scheme, which provides evening/nighttime illumination using just the wall sconces and pendant fixtures. View windows between the dining room and corridor have been added to further break down previous visual barriers. While the home still has a rather traditional floor plate, the simple plan changes have dramatically opened up and made more accessible the social areas (see “renovated” and “former” floor plans). The corridors appear a bit shorter now, and the exterior view to the surrounding Pocono Mountain range has been significantly enhanced by opening up areas with existing windows.

The only modifications I might have suggested, as a designer, would be darker baseboards to more clearly differentiate the wall from the floor for visually impaired residents and, although the state department of health mandated otherwise, a somewhat reduced contrast between the polished floors (not as shiny as they look in the photographs) and the dark carpeting, to avoid possible interpretive difficulties for residents with dementia. At $45 per square foot, however, the architect and the Little Sisters have provided a truly open environment encouraging much-needed socialization.

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