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St. John's Green House

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St. John's Green House® [Penfield, New York]

SWBR Architects [Rochester, New York]

FACILITY TYPE: Skilled Nursing

PROJECT CATEGORY: New Construction

CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR: Veronica Barber, V.P. Chief Administrative Officer

FIRM: SWBR Architects, (585) 232-8300

DESIGN TEAM: Thomas R. Gears, AIA, Principal In Charge; Robert Simonetti, AIA, LEED AP, Project Architect; Melissa Zeh-Gross, Design Technician; Jodi Mason, ASID, NCIDQ #22238, Certified Interior Designer; David Newton, Construction Administrator (SWBR Architects); Daniel Turner, PE, LEED AP, Principal In Charge of M/E/P (Turner Engineering)

PHOTOGRAPHY: Gene Avallone, Park Avenue Photography; SWBR Architects

Number/Type of Housing Units: 20 Skilled Nursing units

Total Area (Sq. Ft.): 16,460



COMPLETION: October 2011


St. John’s Green House project offers licensed skilled nursing care to ten elders in each of two residential suburban homes. Nationally, these are the first Green House® homes located away from a main campus and fully integrated into a residential community. Incorporated into to a development of townhomes, the Green House homes face the street with individual entries, driveways and garages while sharing a beautifully landscaped courtyard.

Architect Robert Simonetti, AIA, noted: “Team members challenged each other throughout the design process to think of ‘home’ rather than ‘homelike’ and went beyond to force out institutional thinking at the deepest level. Carefully considering the delivery of care within the home, St. John’s put aside existing context to move past ‘how it’s done now’ to ‘how it must be done in the future.’ Providing functionality to staff was sought at each decision point, utilizing state-of-the-art technologies to make the trappings of the traditional nursing home disappear.”

Within the homes all stops have been pulled to de-institutionalize skilled nursing care. Elders benefit from not only a new philosophy of personal care and clinical service delivery; they build meaningful relationships while being closer to family, congregation, and community. Elders enjoy the comforts of their homes including private bedrooms with unique layouts, large closets, full baths with showers and abundant space for double beds and personal belongings. Common spaces are filled with natural light and opportunities to engage the outdoors. Special care has been placed on delineating a progression of public to private spaces. Bedrooms located off alcoves reinforce privacy while freeing common areas of multiple doors, which can create an institutional image and impede functionality. Accessed from screened porches, the courtyard offers wood trellis shading, patio dining, raised planting beds, outdoor grilling and a central gazebo for special gatherings.

The St. John’s project epitomizes the goals of the Green House Initiative while bringing elders back to their original communities. On a visit to the homes, The Green House Project Chief Operating Officer Susan Frazier remarked how well the homes were integrated into the community. “What St. John’s and SWBR Architects has done is truly unique and will become a model for other communities in the United States. If I didn’t know they were Green House homes, I would have thought they were just beautiful homes within a residential subdivision. They’re the ideal combination of form, function and Green House philosophy.”