Meadow Ridge Assisted Living Facility in Lancaster County Pennsylvania –a Demonstration of the Power of Building Long-Term Business Relationships

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Willow Valley Retirement Communities teams up with Bernardon Haber Holloway Architects PC and Paul Risk Associates once again. From initial concept to design and construction, the Meadow Ridge Assisted Living Facility at Willow Valley represents the perfect blend of long-term business relationships to meet changing community needs—and incorporates home-style changes residents love.

When Melinda Scott first entered the newly-completed Meadow Ridge Assisted Living facility at Willow Valley, she was shocked.

“It wasn’t what I was expecting,” said Scott, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Willow Valley. “And my reaction was mirrored by just about everyone who came to our open houses at the facility. The lights, the colors—the reflections—everything is so different from what people would normally expect to see in an assisted living environment.”

Wide corridors, an open hearth, natural light throughout, and even whimsical decorating touches like gold stars painted on the foyer ceiling and art glass vases make Meadow Ridge an unusual find in assisted living facilities. “It definitely doesn’t have an institutional feel,” says Scott.

And that's no accident—Meadow Ridge represents a sea change in the traditional design process for supportive living communities—separating assisted living from skilled nursing environments, and that’s where a long-term relationship between the client, the designer and the builder comes in handy, for a number of reasons.

Bernardon Haber Holloway Architects PC (BHH), architectural designers of the project, has been working with Willow Valley for 25 years, and during this time, has seen the senior care industry change.

“In the beginning, we started with the design of the Willow Valley Manor Project and its health care center,” says Associate and Project Director Steve Brown, “and we’ve provided updates to the skilled nursing and personal care facilities over the past 20 years.”

For assisted living to be successful, it requires life-style and aesthetic appeal—people want to maintain a home-style living environment as long as possible, and Meadow Ridge was created to facilitate that need, with more spacious rooms and a warm, residential feel. The challenge was how to do it all and stay within a fixed budget.

“There was a calling to create a variety of living environments within the budgetary requirements of the residents already living at Willow Valley,” said Brown. “We established design modules within the units, rather than unit-specific designs. Using simple, straightforward materials and creating interesting details and finishes helped keep the project on time and on budget.”

He also noted that a long working relationship with both Willow Valley and General Contractors Paul Risk Associates was key to success as well. “Being in tune with Willow Valley’s philosophy and mission and understanding the excellent quality standards of Paul Risk Associates helps us collaboratively design exciting environments like Meadow Ridge.”

Bill Koch of Paul Risk Associates agrees: “Our relationship with Bernardon Haber Holloway and Willow Valley over the long term has definitely benefited this project in terms of time and cost reduction. We came together on this with a lot of things already in place—like BHH, we had previously worked with Willow Valley on several projects, and we already knew their goals and needs. We have a good sense of how they operate, but even more important, Willow Valley as a client is really in tune with their short and long-term goals. We didn’t have to sort through six versions of what they may want—they had already pared it down to two.

Working on Meadow Ridge has also challenged both BHH and Paul Risk with forward-thinking design for the industry, which will be very advantageous in future projects.

“Meadow Ridge is really the next generation in assisted living,” says Koch. “It’s a step away from the traditional institutional feel and more in line with residential, while still maintaining state regulatory requirements. When an independent person moves into a retirement community like this, they have more choices. If they fall and break a hip, what happens? The old options were not as pleasant. We know what the state requirements are, and rather than build just to those specifications, we came together to create something much more flexible and consumer-oriented—which I think benefits everyone.”


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