Set amidst Salt Lake City’s breathtaking mountain views, Utah’s first Life Plan Community, Summit Vista, is designed to look unlike any other retirement facility. Having grown up in his family’s assisted living business, Mark Erickson, CEO and executive director of Summit Vista, says, “We know how to operationally run things, but I didn’t want this to look like a retirement community. I wanted it to feel very different – to look different than anything else built or developed in the U.S.”
Attracting younger seniors
“The initial design renderings were pretty out there, on the edge,” says Erickson. “But when we showed them to prospective residents, they loved the fresh, modern feel and the vibrancy. The flooring is a big part of that. When I think back to the flooring we used to use, it was those rolled out carpets with paisley or flowers. And I didn’t want it to look or feel like that.”
Interface carpet and LVT were used throughout the 105-acre community, which, in its first phase, includes two independent living buildings and a 62,000-square-foot clubhouse with three restaurants, a fitness center and activity studios.
Kelly Ornberg, director of sales and chief marketing officer, says, “We’re seeking to change the way seniors view retirement by emphasizing healthy, successful aging that promotes an independent lifestyle. As a result of the design of Summit Vista, we attract the nation’s youngest point of entry. Our average age is 74 for people who are moving into our community, and the national average is 83. That has a lot do with how vibrant and bright it is and not tan and brown and green as many communities are. The oranges, yellows and reds that pop throughout, with the flooring and the paint colors, really create this younger, fresh feel.”
Designed from the floor up
The design team, Metropolitan Studio, KGRW & Assoc. and BCT Architects, created interesting architectural elements for the interiors, and Interface flooring helped take the design to a higher level of creativity. Connie Wittich from Metropolitan Studio explains: “When it comes to design for senior living, I start building the palette from the flooring up. This was such a large project, so I went to Interface’s showroom in San Francisco and viewed all the new, innovative products with a rep.”
Wittich reviewed preliminary plans to get a feel for what the client liked and then selected products and designs that would create positive energy in the space. The team focused on developing spaces that would allow for different experiences. Every space is unique, but the colors and products flow from one space to another.
“One reason we liked Interface was the custom capabilities,” she says. “But we also liked the availability of products that coordinate. This allowed for movement on the floor, so it wasn’t stark. In senior living, you have to be careful of the contrast and how things go together because of people’s perceptions as they age. The wide breadth of Interface products helped us achieve that and meet the client’s goal of creating something unique in the senior living arena.”
Creating space for engagement
The facilities and amenities at Summit Vista set the community apart from typical senior living environments. Erickson says, “Our philosophy is we create the buildings and design them in a way that creates opportunities for engagement, but we don’t do activities. We’re not senior living with bingo. This is your home; this is your space. And we want resident-led groups.” For example, when constructed, the clubhouse included space for an art studio, but it was essentially a blank canvas. When a couple who are master potters happened to move in, they had the studio equipped to meet their needs and now host pottery sessions for the community.
The building also promotes social engagement in subtle ways from mail delivery to dining. Erickson explains: “We have a central mail station in the clubhouse, which creates a reason for people to go to the marketplace and stop by the front desk. Same thing with culinary arts – it’s more than just nutrition and good meals – it’s the social engagement. People come down at lunch, and they’re meeting new friends and talking about things to do.”
Spaces were clearly designed with socializing in mind, such as the extra-wide hallway in front of the Bistro that allows for seating and conversation. Each of the three restaurants evoke different dining styles and culinary offerings, including the Bistro with its pizza oven and TVs, Copperview with casual counter-service, and the Olympus Room for fine dining. It’s all about offering residents options and a more social lifestyle.
Intended for independent, active adults 62 and older, Summit Vista provides a unique focus on proven health and wellness practices. By collaborating with the local health system (Intermountain Healthcare), the community offers residents multiple levels of healthcare services, with an evolving strategy for more over time. Future plans include assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing services.
When complete, Summit Vista will feature three clubhouses with clusters of five 100-unit housing complexes around each clubhouse – all set to the backdrop of spectacular mountain and valley views. At capacity, Summit Vista will boast 1,500 residents, making it the largest senior community in Utah. A lofty goal, but one they expect to achieve thanks to affordable pricing and an innovative approach that sets this senior living community apart from the others.