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Aldersgate

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For the Aldersgate United Methodist Retirement Community, Shook Kelley is providing strategic re-visioning, master planning and architectural services for the existing 230+ acre Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), singularly focused upon the future of Aldersgate, as a prelude to the planned upgrading and expansion of various elements of the Charlotte campus.

The efforts were greatly informed by research and insights provided by ActionPact, and by Greystone Communities, through their parallel engagements with Aldersgate. The multifaceted approach was very enlightening, one that correctly focused upon effectiveness over mere efficiency, and one that recognized that the challenges to both the mission and the economic future of Aldersgate are complex. In this search, Shook Kelley crafted a new Alternative Future, influenced by a number of points along the way: from a customer standpoint, from an organizational standpoint, from a development standpoint, and from a financial standpoint. As broad and comprehensive as these issues are, so were the studies by Shook Kelley that explored them. From these an Alternative Future for Aldersgate was selected that informed and directed the Master Plan going forward.

This thorough investigation with Aldersgate about their strategic needs led to two major initial efforts for Shook Kelley: An extensive renovation and expansion of existing common areas, and the development of more compelling independent living options. The largely isolated but beautiful campus was in need of a sense of focus. It lacked a real community space that would draw residents from all the disparate housing options spread across their property. Development over the long history of the facility had led to a range of expressions – the most prominent being a 9-story assisted living tower which cast a very institutional shadow and was less than appealing to potential new residents. Its ground level housed communal dining rooms and kitchen area, lounge areas and administrative offices. Low ceilings and few windows left these spaces cramped and gloomy.

Architecturally, it was important to address the adjacent residential tower and conventional apartment building. Elements from both are referenced in the final design so the effect is one of blending rather than rejecting. The oldest house still extant in Mecklenburg County is also within sight so color and material choices were influenced by the tawny stone and wood structure. Most importantly was the idea that the addition needed to serve as a living room for all residents – no matter their mobility or type of residential accommodation. This was achieved by arraying a series of three carefully scaled spaces in front of the tower to provide a much-needed change of scene for residents. The central Winter Garden essentially becomes a light-filled forum where gatherings or performances can occur. It orients views and provides a focal point for both the interior and exterior and leads to the Market Cafe, library, and dining rooms beyond. A stair element connecting the second level billiard lounge provides a vertical counterpoint and becomes a glowing lantern at night.

The 2-story lounge located to one side offers a sophisticated sense of drama and comfort with subtle colors and soft lighting. On the other side of the Winter Garden is a more intimate den where smaller groups can play cards or have meetings. All three connect to protected outdoor spaces so residents have easy access to them. These outdoor spaces are vital transitions to the larger Village Green where gardens, paths, seating groups, and water features are part of a conscious effort to encourage residents to walk, converse, or just enjoy the fresh air.

As an addition to the existing residential tower, the revived Commons was intended to become the new front door for the existing building while also providing a communal space missing from the campus. Options were explored for the siting of the IL residential component with a final decision to reimagine the entire front presentation of the CCRC. The resultant location and form of the addition serves as critical connective tissue to a village green, where 62 new one- and two-bedroom boutique apartments in a three-story complex front a walkable, intimately landscaped room that extends to the surrounding natural campus. Every apartment has a terrace or balcony, under-building parking and high-quality features and finishes that residents can select.

At the urging of Shook Kelley, Aldersgate has embarked upon another bold initiative: To build a new community to meet their neighbors needs, and also provide housing for their employees. On 70 acres will soon arise a mix of family and age-targeted housing at many price points, adjacent to a natural preserve, with community gathering places based upon the Shook Kelley master plan. There is more to come with this exciting mixed-income, mixed-use community!

The efforts were greatly informed by research and insights provided by ActionPact, and by Greystone Communities, through their parallel engagements with Aldersgate. The multifaceted approach was very enlightening, one that correctly focused upon effectiveness over mere efficiency, and one that recognized that the challenges to both the mission and the economic future of Aldersgate are complex. In this search, Shook Kelley crafted a new Alternative Future, influenced by a number of points along the way: from a customer standpoint, from an organizational standpoint, from a development standpoint, and from a financial standpoint. As broad and comprehensive as these issues are, so were the studies by Shook Kelley that explored them. From these an Alternative Future for Aldersgate was selected that informed and directed the Master Plan going forward.

This thorough investigation with Aldersgate about their strategic needs led to two major initial efforts for Shook Kelley: An extensive renovation and expansion of existing common areas, and the development of more compelling independent living options. The largely isolated but beautiful campus was in need of a sense of focus. It lacked a real community space that would draw residents from all the disparate housing options spread across their property. Development over the long history of the facility had led to a range of expressions – the most prominent being a 9-story assisted living tower which cast a very institutional shadow and was less than appealing to potential new residents. Its ground level housed communal dining rooms and kitchen area, lounge areas and administrative offices. Low ceilings and few windows left these spaces cramped and gloomy.

Architecturally, it was important to address the adjacent residential tower and conventional apartment building. Elements from both are referenced in the final design so the effect is one of blending rather than rejecting. The oldest house still extant in Mecklenburg County is also within sight so color and material choices were influenced by the tawny stone and wood structure. Most importantly was the idea that the addition needed to serve as a living room for all residents – no matter their mobility or type of residential accommodation. This was achieved by arraying a series of three carefully scaled spaces in front of the tower to provide a much-needed change of scene for residents. The central Winter Garden essentially becomes a light-filled forum where gatherings or performances can occur. It orients views and provides a focal point for both the interior and exterior and leads to the Market Cafe, library, and dining rooms beyond. A stair element connecting the second level billiard lounge provides a vertical counterpoint and becomes a glowing lantern at night.

The 2-story lounge located to one side offers a sophisticated sense of drama and comfort with subtle colors and soft lighting. On the other side of the Winter Garden is a more intimate den where smaller groups can play cards or have meetings. All three connect to protected outdoor spaces so residents have easy access to them. These outdoor spaces are vital transitions to the larger Village Green where gardens, paths, seating groups, and water features are part of a conscious effort to encourage residents to walk, converse, or just enjoy the fresh air.

As an addition to the existing residential tower, the revived Commons was intended to become the new front door for the existing building while also providing a communal space missing from the campus. Options were explored for the siting of the IL residential component with a final decision to reimagine the entire front presentation of the CCRC. The resultant location and form of the addition serves as critical connective tissue to a village green, where 62 new one- and two-bedroom boutique apartments in a three-story complex front a walkable, intimately landscaped room that extends to the surrounding natural campus. Every apartment has a terrace or balcony, under-building parking and high-quality features and finishes that residents can select.

At the urging of Shook Kelley, Aldersgate has embarked upon another bold initiative: To build a new community to meet their neighbors needs, and also provide housing for their employees. On 70 acres will soon arise a mix of family and age-targeted housing at many price points, adjacent to a natural preserve, with community gathering places based upon the Shook Kelley master plan. There is more to come with this exciting mixed-income, mixed-use community!

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