Design Center June 2002

The Haven
Charlotte, North Carolina
Type of Facility/Setting:Alzheimer’s Assisted Living
President:Jonathan M. Howard, Resources for Senior Living, LLC
(877) 775-4543
Architecture Firm:
Dalton Moran Robinson Architecture
Charlotte, North Carolina
(704) 372-0116
Resident Units:
Total Area:
37,000 sq. ft.
Construction Cost:
$3.3 million
Cost/sq. ft.:
Administrator’s Comments
Jonathan M. Howard, President, Resources for Senior Living, LLC: “When we started this company, my partner and I visited about 100 buildings, including assisted living, continuing care retirement communities and hospitality facilities. We saw some Alzheimer’s assisted living facilities where residents clustered around the front door with nothing in particular to do, and found visiting those places was not a particularly pleasant experience. We created The Haven to provide the highest standard of care in a residential, homelike environment.

“It is set up as two buildings, connected by a short corridor. In the Public House, you are greeted by a concierge, who is on duty from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Within the Public House is a living room, family room, the residence kitchen, a large community room and an administrative area. These can be used by families and the community and by residents accompanied by staff. Passing through a secure door, you enter the Resident House, with a 1940s-themed Main Street Life Skills Area. Three 16-unit neighborhoods off Main Street are designed, operated and menu-planned to accommodate a particular level of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Main Street mixes murals depicting a movie theater and a hardware store, in colors specially selected for Alzheimer’s residents, with a functioning ice cream shop, pet shop, washeteria, beauty shop, boutique and workshop. These spaces provide our residents with activities in which they can participate-they can help wash and fold clothes in the washeteria; they can go to the ice cream shop for an ice cream; and then they can visit the pet shop to view the birds and fish and pet the rabbit, a form of pet therapy that many residents find very soothing.

“Each of the neighborhoods has a continuous walking path, with apartments (private and companion) on both sides and surrounding a dining area, a pantry, and sitting and activity areas. Outside each neighborhood, and freely accessible when the weather is good, is a private, heavily landscaped courtyard with nontoxic plants, benches, fountains and raised garden beds for resident use, secured by a seven-foot fence. Residents are free to walk about the neighborhood, Main Street and the courtyard at will, and find plenty to keep them busy and entertained during the day.

“We assign staff to individual residents because residents and families are more comfortable with knowing their caregivers, and we know who to hold accountable for resident care.

“I was a Wall Street bond trader for Merrill Lynch during the 1970s and ’80s and learned a great deal about how nursing homes operate-the good operations, the bad operations; good design vs bad design; and so forth. Based on this, my company has taken a different approach to developing assisted living. Instead of coming into a neighborhood, doing a traffic count, buying a four-acre site and building from curb to curb, we purchase sufficient land for our residents to move about with some peace and privacy, and build both a Laurels (our traditional assisted living residence) and a Haven (our Alzheimer’s assisted living residence) on the site so that the residents can age in place. We believe assisted living is a residential product and, therefore, build in residential settings as opposed to curb to curb on Main and Main.

“It is important to discuss and put together all your operational policies and procedures prior to beginning any building design. This should be given plenty of time-in our case, it takes up to six months. Then we go to the architect, describe our program and request that the building design meet our program’s requirements. If there is ever a conflict between development and operations, the issue is discussed, and a better solution always evolves. This has led to what we believe is the best quality of services and care in the assisted living industry.”

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