by Adriana Pop
Orig. Published: Sept 29, 2016 on MHN (Multi-Housing News)
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s latest housing facility in East Kensington offers senior-friendly apartments designed by Cecil Baker + Partners.
A diverse mix of age- and income-eligible residents began moving into their apartments in June. The formal building dedication will be held on Oct. 4.
St. Francis Villa is located at 2450 Emerald St., in East Kensington, a neighborhood undergoing increased development activity. The area is also in serious need of affordable senior housing, according to the company’s release.
Catholic Health Care Services (CHCS) of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia engaged Cecil Baker to design the 40-unit, 38,750-square-foot, three-story building on what was once a vacant lot.
“We are continually evolving our understanding of the needs and abilities of this vulnerable demographic,” stated Nancy Bastian, partner at Cecil Baker + Partners. “From the overall site down to the details in each one-bedroom unit, our design for St. Francis Villa creates an environment that is truly senior-friendly, equipped to provide for the long-term comfort of residents.”
The architects designed the layout of the units in a way that makes them convenient for residents’ long-term living, anticipating the needs they might have as they continue to age. For example, windowsills are low enough so residents in wheelchairs can comfortably look out. Bathrooms include roll-in showers with removable thresholds, and all units have an emergency call system in both the bedroom and bathroom. Four units are fully handicap accessible, and two are designed for the hearing and vision impaired. Each one-bedroom apartment is about 605 square feet and thoughtfully designed to give residents enough space to live comfortably.
Common-area amenities include a community room, kitchen, lobby, offices and mailroom on the first floor, giving residents access to on-site resources and fostering a sense of community through shared spaces. The building also includes a lounge, laundry facilities and trash chute on each of its three floors.
The first-floor community room looks onto an outdoor space designed by Jack Carman of the landscape architecture firm Design for Generations, which is nationally recognized for the design of therapeutic gardens, particularly memory gardens for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The outdoor space includes a paved terrace, planted garden area with a pathway and benches, as well as a raised garden bed for residents’ use.
The building’s exterior uses brick in response to the Kensington neighborhood’s predominant rowhouse style. Brightly colored Nichiha cement board panels supplement the brick.
The building is highly energy efficient, meeting Energy Star Homes Version 3.0. The project includes solar water heating panels on the roof.
CHCS is overseeing operations of the building and providing supportive services. CHCS’s Supportive Services Coordinator is available to assist all residents in accessing and maintaining public benefits, such as food stamps, Medicaid and home heating assistance. The SSC also assists with the navigation of health insurance options, Social Security and the Department of Human Services (formerly the Department of Public Welfare).
Other notable Philadelphia projects designed by Cecil Baker + Partners include the high-end 500 Walnut multifamily tower going up right now in Old City, and One Riverside, an 82-unit luxury condo project developed by Carl Dranoff, president & founder of Dranoff Properties.
Image courtesy of Cecil Baker + Partners