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November 30, 2023
This is Personal | November 2023 Updates
November marked a momentous milestone for the Memory Care Center at Willow Valley Communities as the two architectural teams, NORD and EGA, journeyed to Lancaster for their premiere visit to Willow Valley Communities’ campus. With great anticipation, the teams toured the exceptional residences and unparalleled amenities, ending their tour at the site of the future seven-acre Memory Care Center.
During their visit, the architects presented an update to over 500 Residents, Team Members, SmartLife Members, and family members who filled the theater at Willow Valley Communities’ Cultural Center. With “standing room only,” attendees listened intently to the stories, experiences, and ideas shared by the project’s principal architect, Morten Rask Gregersen from NORD.
Images of NORD-designed European memory care villages, cancer centers, and hospice care rooms highlighted the firm’s commitment to executing the two themes that carry through each of its award-winning projects: home and healing.
“We design with empathy and respect for the individual person with emphasis on the individual and the experience they should have within the building we design,” Gregersen shared.
Gregersen talked the audience through photographs and blueprints of projects they have led throughout Europe as he discussed the concepts driving the design of each. The prominent incorporation of natural elements and direct exposure to sunlight, along with clearly-defined yet flexible, human-scaled spaces, emphasized NORD’s values and left the audience with a sense of warmth and connectedness. In a rural French village, residents experiencing dementia are able to roam the sprawling, unfenced topography as they self-elect to engage with amenities. Hospice patients in Denmark are able to feel the warmth of the sun from the comfort of their bed, which can easily be transported outside onto the patio of their private room at the care center. In Norway, residences have been carefully situated to maximize integration with the coexisting community while providing a safe haven for those who wander. Known as a Garden City, the green-roofed, timber-built community combines 112 private residences with amenities that foster the continuation of decades-old daily activities, including soccer fields where residents can enjoy being spectators of youth sports.
Inspired by the rich architecture of Lancaster City, the architectural teams look forward to continuing to blend elements from Lancaster’s deeply-rooted history and culture with pragmatic Danish design. The latest renderings of the Memory Care Center, which were shared during this special presentation and continue to evolve with the integration of cutting-edge concepts, underscored NORD’s intention of ensuring that the simple key principles of heart and home reverberate throughout this design. The evidence of intentional thought behind each detail demonstrates that the Memory Care Center is about providing a sense of normalcy, inclusion, engagement, dignity, and comfort for all who enter.
“For us, it’s a dream come true to work on a project like this,” Gregersen said.
The Memory Care Center at Willow Valley Communities will defy the traditional models of senior living. The scale, the scope, and the commitment shared by an entire community in pursuit of the Center have raised the bar for aging successfully, even with a diagnosis of dementia. In conversations throughout their visit, the Danish partners shed light on the stark differences between care for elders in Denmark and care in America. Projects brought to fruition through philanthropy are not common in European culture. Further, they shared that most citizens in Denmark live in the same town for their entire lives. The community comes together to care for their aging population, as younger generations care for their familial elders. In America, families are more diverse—both in culture and geography. The Resident body of Willow Valley Communities is a prime reflection of this phenomenon, attracting Residents from over 40 states. The Memory Care Center will serve as a comforting resource, drawing family and neighbors into the care team while offering opportunities for community engagement through education, awareness, and prevention efforts. The Center will become a destination and will spark pivotal change for memory care in America.
With great anticipation, Willow Valley Communities has announced that a groundbreaking ceremony will be held on April 17, 2024 to kick-off the construction phase of the Memory Care Center.