Design Center


Tamarisk Enriched Assisted Living

Type of Facility/Setting: Assisted Living and Dementia Care
Owner: Jewish Seniors Agency of Rhode Island
Chief Administrator: Susette Rabinowitz, Executive Director
Architecture/Interiors: JSA Architects, Inc., (603) 436-2551
Landscape Architecture: Geller DeVellis, Inc., (617) 523-8103
Photography: Warren Jagger Photography, Inc.
Resident Capacity: 66 Apartments
Total Project Area (sq. ft.): 64,000
Construction Costs: $7,500,000 (excluding land, equipment, and soft costs)
Cost/Sq. Ft.: $117

An intimate estate

Inspired by the great “Shingle Style” mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, Tamarisk Enriched Assisted Living, while considerable in size, retains the look and spirit of residents’ individual homes through an array of interior and exterior “personal spaces,” which are thoughtfully proportioned and splendidly detailed.

“With such diversity in architecture and landscape, everyone is free to discover his or her special corner of the place that feels most homelike,” explains Robin Tufts, associate and project manager for JSA. “Birdbaths, picket fences, and stone walls enhance the garden paths, while a grand wooden trellis is designed to double as a summer haven and a succah (for Jewish ceremonial uses),” says Theo Kindermans, Geller DeVellis partner. He adds, “Our criterion for including such features was simple: If you wouldn’t find it in your own backyard, you won’t find it here.”

The site and landscape design complement the building’s architecture and interiors, to encourage discovery at every turn. “Although the sloping site presented some design challenges for us,” explains Kindermans, “building into the hillside minimized the height of the structure, while concealing the service areas and allowing for multiple ‘grade-level’ entries.”

The trend in dementia design of developing completely self-contained “neighborhoods” is starting to moderate as providers strive for better staff efficiency and sharing of resources. “Residents seem to enjoy the regular ‘communal joining’ of two neighborhoods for meals, while otherwise retreating to their smaller social circles,” adds Tufts, “and the benefits for staff include centralized support areas and observation points.”

Another notable project challenge was providing decentralized, family-style kosher dining, necessitating the management and certification of food delivery and handling across the facility from the sizeable commercial kitchen to the serving kitchens and bistro.

“We have some unique project elements, such as our professional art collection, which was handpicked for each neighborhood and features diverse themes, from ‘Northeastern United States/Waterfront’ to ‘Middle Eastern/Greek,'” says Susette Rabinowitz, executive director of the Jewish Seniors Agency of Rhode Island. “And as this project was a new venture for us, its success can be attributed to the combination of our caregiving traditions and the synergy between the two design firms, essential in melding the interior and exterior environments.”

Tamarisk is a grand community, planned to nurture and support Jewish cultural values and events, yet welcoming people of all religions and ethnic backgrounds.

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