Serving as a gateway to the bustling Lake Oswego, Oregon, The Springs at Lake Oswego is a senior community serving a bustling town of 40,000 and its elderly population with independent and assisted living spaces housed within its 4.5 acre complex. The site sits at an intersection between the residential and commercial districts of the town, not far from the local interstate. A walking path even anchors the location to many of the local shops.
It was a “perfect location” for Fee Stublefield, CEO of The Springs Living, which owns 18 assisted living communities in Oregon and Montana. For him, he saw this new project as an opportunity to better integrate with the urban fabric of the town. However, despite being a perfect location, the site still came with its challenges.
In addition to height limits and grade issues, city zoning required that existing mature trees (greater than 8 feet in diameter) be located within the first 8 feet of the property line along the street frontage be preserved. Twenty percent of the project also needed to be dedicated to open space, such as areas for outdoor activities and landscaping, instead of building and parking.
To overcome these challenges, LRS Architects started with the steep grade, opting to embed the parking structure into the hill at the north side of the property. It was a move that saved money in the long run, as there was no need to create a temporary structure to support the soil while moving it. It also saved considerably on space, allowing the aboveground area to be dedicated to a five-story, interlocking structure with two massive, open air courtyards at the center of each ring.
While parking occupies the north structure’s first floor, the south side consists of many of the amenities for the facility, as well as the main entrance. The choice to group the amenities was done in order to “activate the commons and give residents easy access to outdoor spaces and the local community,” says Lisa Warnock, director of housing interiors at LRS Architects.
The second to fifth floors were then given space to arrange the 117 assisted living, 24 memory care, and 75 independent living units. Additionally, the south portion of the fifth floor features outdoor amenities, including a wine bar, dog run, bocce court, barbecue area, giant chess board, raised planter garden, an 18-hole putting green, and ample covered seating.
As part of what Stubblefield refers to as an experiment in designing better spaces and experiences for the communities, the third floor even includes “hybrid” apartments. These apartments are fully accessible, classed as both independent and assisted living spaces. While smaller than the traditional independent suites, these apartments contain a higher level of finishes, full kitchens and in-unit washers and dryers. The end goal was to create a space where people could more easily age in place. However, as Stubblefield admits, while the overall community was a resounding success, this element could use some tweaking.
The Springs at Lake Oswego is also the first of The Springs Living’s 18 communities to offer medical services via a dedicated clinical care team at the community. Greenfield Health provides its services via a clinic area that comprises a reception area and exam room adjacent to the community’s fitness center and first-floor spa. “The next generation of residents doesn’t want to spend precious time driving to doctor appointments and sitting in waiting rooms. They want to be living every moment,” Stubblefield says. “It only makes sense to provide appropriate levels of healthcare support to meet both of these trends.”
The building’s overall aesthetic came from a Sullivanesque style, which is based on the work of Louis Sullivan (a mentor of Frank Lloyd Wright and an influential figure in the Prairie School movement). They then married it with The Springs Living’s signature Northwest-inspired approach that integrates a modern feel with the casualness of the outdoors.
For example, LRS chose brick masonry for the building’s base, a material that reflects Sullivan’s style while also tying in with a nearby office campus. To enhance the residential feel and reduce the visual scale of the community, LRS specified vertical bay windows, recessed decks, and a lot of glazing. The result is a modern and sophisticated look that many people find luxurious while also being able to see themselves living in it.
Each building’s interior courtyards provide a resident-centered space that helps bring views to the outdoors and natural light deep into the building, adds Warnock. “Glazing the building’s exterior and also the interior courtyard side of the building, we can pull daylight all the way through the entire structure of the building,” she says.
For the interiors, the project team sought a contemporary take on the Northwest to create an ambience that locals are used to, Warnock says. The approach incorporates materials such as warm walnut woods and natural stone to create calming and soothing spaces. Results include wallcoverings with nature patterns, floral-themed carpets, timbered wood, and a natural rock wall juxtaposed by an undulating smooth walnut vertical element in the lobby.
A particularly unique element of The Springs at Lake Oswego is its more than 40,000 square feet of secure, private outdoor amenity and landscaped space, including the two internal courtyards and expansive roof terrace. Stubblefield says the goal was to maximize outdoor space to fit with the outdoor lifestyle of residents used to the Northwest culture. “Our residents live very active, very outdoorsy lives. They appreciate the natural beauty of the place they choose to call home,” Stubblefield says.
As it turned out, the outdoor spaces were not only critical as a best practice to provide residents with fresh air and sunlight, but because the building opened during the COVID-19 pandemic, the exterior amenities “allowed residents to have full lives because they could be outdoors exercising and dining,” Warnock says.
Outdoor spaces also help with connecting residents to the surrounding neighborhood, or “engaging the edges,” as Stubblefield puts it. “The building is intended to feel as if it’s a part of the overall community and not as though we’re putting people away somewhere,” Warnock adds.
Another version of this article previously appeared in Environments for Aging.