Design through Engagement
The diverse group of stakeholders included not only the Veterans’ Home administrators, staff and residents, but also the state’s Department of Veterans Services, Department of Health and Human Services and Asset Management Board. It was critical to develop an inclusive design process. Through programming workshops and tours of similar facilities, our team brought together these groups to develop shared knowledge and common references, so we could jointly evaluate design and programming decisions. We built a full-scale mock-up of the resident room and installed it on-site, to solicit feedback from the core stakeholders as well as future residents and residents’ families. We asked them to evaluate everything from the mounting heights of bathroom fittings to provisions for patient privacy, accessibility and care. Through questionnaires and observation, the team synthesized the data into simple diagrams to report back findings and refine the design.
The new Veterans’ Home is not only a model for dignified long-term care; it will also be a cutting-edge example of resilience and sustainability. The combination of geothermal heating and cooling, a heat recovery system, a high performance building envelope, a 0.7-megawatt rooftop solar array, and natural ventilation in all resident spaces yields a building that uses 71% less energy than allowed by code—and eliminates the use of fossil fuels during typical operation. The result is a forward-looking building that not only meets the Commonwealth’s energy reduction goals but also provides a healthy, comfortable environment for residents and staff.
Photography © Robert Benson Photography