Elkhart, Indiana


49,200 sf

Completed Date

Spring 2019

With its thoughtful combination of person-centered care, connection to nature, and homelike environment, the revolutionary senior Living Wisdom Center enriches the daily life of its residents. Four unique households surround a central conservatory, creating a neighborhood feel and allowing access to the ‘outdoors’ year-round, which enhances well-being, purpose, and social relationships. Resident suites with private bathrooms are designed to promote independence.

“Arkos Design was selected in large part for their proven ability to do exactly what we envisioned, which was to create a revolutionary design unlike any other and a direct reflection of how memory care should be designed-not how it has been designed. They delivered well beyond expectations and have raised the bar for dementia care excellence. The impact of the design and the therapeutic value to our residents has been nothing short of remarkable.”

– Patrick Pingel, CEO
Hubbard Hill Living Wisdom Community

“The Arkos Design team’s exploratory work and vision not only brought a life changing concept to realization, but truly distinguished LWC as the gold standard in dementia care. Therapeutic environment, quality of life, and person-centered detail has given our residents purpose, meaning, and an extraordinary living experience. It is a game changer without question.”

– Debbie Carriveau, Executive Director
Living Wisdom Center for Dementia Care

The Story

The journey to create the Living Wisdom Center, a new memory care building on the Hubbard Hill campus, began by putting aside the preconceived notions of what such a facility is and instead reimagined what care should be for residents with dementia and other cognitive challenges.  Memory care design should focus on the resident, enrich their daily life, and add therapeutic value to their environment.

A collaborative design process brought together the facility management and staff; architects, interior designers, and landscape architects; general and specialty contractors; experts in memory care program development and operation; and one of the foremost authorities of biophilic design.  Discussion, research, and exploration of concepts led the team to two core principles that would guide the design and decision-making process: biophilia and community.

Biophilia is the innate affinity that people have for nature, and biophilic design integrates nature or natural elements and their therapeutic benefits into the built environment.  Community is more than a group of people living together in a home or neighborhood; it is also the sense of place and belonging that is cultivated by shared experiences, social interactions, and fellowship.  Biophilic design and community design both seek to promote well-being, rooted in the familiar, whether that is nature or human constructs.

Providing an environment to keep residents engaged with nature and outdoor activities throughout the year is a challenge in the northern Indiana climate.  Rather than let these challenges discourage the team from its vision, they inspired the development of the atrium concept.  All the elements of a true outdoor environment are present, with many features designed to achieve desired benefits while mitigating adverse effects.

The atrium is centrally located in the building, not only providing the surrounding rooms with natural light and views but also becoming the core element of the memory care neighborhood and of the community concept.  Looking onto the atrium are four distinct homes, together forming the neighborhood.  Within each home reside nine residents, together forming a household.  Each resident has their own private room.  These layers of personal and built relationships are the foundation of community, with each person contributing to the whole.

A key to the resident’s well-being is a sense of belonging and purpose, being part of a community but also being able to make choices.  Common spaces are designed to encourage social interaction and nurture interpersonal relationships, helping to avoid isolation. 

These spaces are also designed with opportunities for autonomy, allowing people to choose their level of interaction and privacy at any given time.  In the atrium, residents may choose to join an exercise group on the lawn, help plant flowerpots, or find a comfortable seat on a bench under a shade tree.  In the homes, residents may choose to join a group playing games in the family room, help prepare dinner in the kitchen, or sit in a quiet corner of the living room.

The design of this new model for memory care is an interwoven solution for human needs, enrichment, and natural connection.

Living Wisdom Center Wins Design Award

living wisdom

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