Take a drive along Route 1 in Branford, and you’re sure to see a curious, H-shaped building taking form across the street from the United Methodist Church. When completed, it will contain a 64-bed memory care facility for Alzheimer’s patients. But its proximity to the Evergreen Woods retirement community, also designed by TPA, creates a complementary continuum of independent living to skilled nursing care options. These opportunities benefit older citizens in contrast to other new communities in Branford designed to appeal to Millennials.
Construction of the 32,000-square-foot facility managed by Artis Senior Living was not without its challenges. Demolition of an existing structure on the site encountered poor subsurface soil conditions which required remediation. Additionally, a small isolated wetland in the middle of the site rendered the majority of the site unbuildable due to the resulting 100 foot buffer setback. Fortunately, the Town was amenable to mitigation alternatives which involved recreating the wetland as a bioretention area elsewhere on the site which allowed development to proceed.
The site around the facility is designed with the particular needs of Alzheimer’s patients in mind. Fencing will be installed around the property to prevent inadvertent wandering. A variance was required as the 7-feet high fence (with an additional 1-foot high lattice-work section at the top) exceeded the six foot allowable height in Town regulations. Concrete sidewalks meander around the building and landscape with nary a straight section which helps stimulate the minds of patients who are inclined to walk only directly forward as their memory begins to fail them.
An engineered wall on the east side of the site retains the level grade around the facility and prevents the need for extensive grading in the setback of nearby wetlands. Steeper areas outside of the fencing make use of native meadow and wet slope seed mixes that require less frequent mowing and maintenance while adding seasonal color and habitat to the site. A new bioretention basin adjacent to the main wetlands corridor recreates and expands upon the small, non-contiguous wetlands that was filled in the middle of the site. The majority of stormwater, however, is channeled to a new underground Cultec infiltration gallery system. The net result is less off-site runoff post-construction than the conditions that originally existed.
A number of outdoor seating areas will provide spaces for patients, caregivers, and visitors to interact. Two small courtyards inside the buildings will afford opportunities for fresh air as well as small gardens for patients to tend. A number of benches will be located along the meandering paths to provide locations to sit in both sun and shade. More formal patios and porches connected to the building allow for larger groups to congregate and socialize. Construction of the facility is currently underway and is expected to be complete by late Summer 2016.