With 27,000 acres, Berry College, in Rome, Georgia, is the world’s largest contiguous college campus. Grounded in practical work experience and community service, these two pillars are encapsulated in the 2020 addition of the Spires at Berry College, a 400,000-square-foot continuing care retirement center that provides real-life work-study options for students.
The project team, comprised of THW Design, Faulkner Design Group, Greenbrier Development, and Lavender Mountain Senor Living (a nonprofit formed by Berry College to own and operate the center), was eager to find a location that offered an immersion into nature for its residents. This search led to a brownfield site near the west side of campus that had been a limestone quarry until 2000. Complete with views of the 88-acre manmade Eagle Lake and Lavender Mountain, the setting of woodlands, meadows, and streams is a picturesque one for retirees.
School buildings are adorned with spires, so to extend this spirit of academic life these structures were also incorporated into the retirement center. The architecture and interiors are further defined by plaid fabrics, wingback chairs, and Carrara marble-like porcelain tiles that pop against wood ceiling beams and stacked stone walls and columns. In the public spaces, warm gray mixes with jewel tones of teal and merlot.
“We pulled those materials that have been around for a long time and that are familiar to residents in their homes,” says Nicole Hill, senior project manager at Dallas-based Faulkner Design Group.
Independent living units are connected to the healthcare building, where those who require more services reside. A sense of isolation is diminished further by the presence of a multipurpose space for events and presentations, and club rooms that bring together students and residents for socializing.
Says Ken Kite, architect and senior project manager at Atlanta-based THW Design, “We tried to make sure that at each level, the feel of the building was the same—the same quality, same openness as much as possible, and same opportunity for interaction.”
A version of this article was originally published by Environments for Aging.