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To Grandmother's House We Go

January 1, 2005
by ROBERT VOLZER, CID, IIDA, VOLZER DESIGN DEVELOPMENT
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Project Summary

  • Type of Facility/Setting: Independent Living—Cottage Homes

  • Owner: Strong Health System/University of Rochester, Rochester, New York

  • Chief Administrator: Michael J. Bierley, President, The Highlands, (585) 389-0982

  • Planning & Architecture: CSD People Architecture, Inc. (CS&D), Baltimore, (410) 539-2080

  • Affiliate Project Architect: SWBR Architects & Engineers, Rochester, New York, (585) 232-8300

  • Photography: CS&D, SWBR, and Michael J. Bierley

  • Capacity: 36 Cottage Homes on a 15-acre site (home sizes are 1,550 and 1,735 sq. ft.)

  • Construction Cost: $8,000,000

  • Construction Cost/Sq. Ft.: $120


Serving both as a gateway to the charming 19th-century village of Pittsford, New York, and as the newest neighborhood at The Highlands, a CCAC-accredited senior living community, this 36-home cluster development welcomes residents with its “Neotraditional” style. Glen Tipton, FAIA, a principal with CS&D and an expert for senior living facility planning in this style, discussed in a recent interview the premise of Neotraditionalism. In this style, the cottages are placed close to the sidewalks and streets, have front porches to encourage visiting with neighbors, and are designed to reflect the local architecture of the village. This provides a sharp contrast to our “modern” American suburban neighborhoods, which are characterized by isolated, self-contained houses boasting two- and three-car garages among their predominant architectural features.



To enhance the active lifestyle of the cottage residents, The Hahnemann Club, a centrally positioned “carriage house” type of structure, houses private dining, wellness facilities, and a lifelong learning center that is directed by the University of Rochester and offers 45 courses to residents of The Highlands. And with the surrounding upscale village at arm's reach, residents can enjoy boutique shopping and local culture within the mainstream of the community while having access to the highly regarded, state-of-the-art continuum of care offered by Strong Health, the regional healthcare system.







SWBR's Tom Gears, who handled local project work and customizing of home plans for the individual occupants, further discussed the cottage designs. He explained that they all feature one-floor living and that although the typical upper half-story is uninhabitable “shell space,” it is highly valued for its aesthetics, providing rich architectural character to the homes. “Starting with just two floor-plan options, said Gears, “residents were allowed to customize their kitchen and bath fixtures and their interior décor. They also could choose from minor variations in porches, rooflines, dormers, windows, and exterior finish materials. As a result, Pittsford's architectural review board was delighted that only 4 of the 36 cottages in the finished neighborhood looked the same.”

Bill Carpenter, Pittsford Town Supervisor, rallied local support for the project and expressed great appreciation for the high-quality addition to the town's housing options, how beautifully it was integrated with the village, and what a delight it was to have such housing for people choosing to remain in the community in their later years.

I, too, am thrilled to have such a fine example of senior housing right in my backyard in Upstate New York. With one part Norman Rockwell and two parts Disney, Neotraditionalism makes everything old, new again.





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