The Spires at Berry University has a claim to fame, getting located on the world’s most significant school campus. And the just lately opened continuing care retirement neighborhood (CCRC) tends to make the most of its locale by integrating seamlessly with its picturesque environment and the neighboring school.

Laurie Steber could inform that the neighborhood was going to be distinctive even ahead of it was comprehensive. She was functioning in senior residing in North Carolina when she observed the occupation listing for the executive director place.

“When I saw this job posted, the stars aligned and the sky opened up — it was practically a physical reaction,” she explained to Senior Housing News.

SHN Awards Ad


Some of her exhilaration was owing to particular connections. She grew up in Atlanta, and her nephew attended Berry Faculty, which is about an hour-and-a-fifty percent northwest of the Georgia capital, in the vicinity of the city of Rome. But Steber also was thrilled about the special prospect to produce an intergenerational senior living community.

“What was so remarkable was beginning anything from scratch — the pupil factor can make it so various,” she reported.

The architecture and design and style of The Spires at Berry School also are various than a normal everyday living prepare local community, presenting amazing sights of a quarry lake and seamlessly integrating with the natural environment and the aesthetic of the university campus. The undertaking was so successful in achieving its plans, it received top honors in the CCRC/Daily life System Group class of the 2020 Senior Housing Information Architecture & Style Awards.

SHN Awards Ad


The concept

Staying located on 27,000 acres, Berry School has lots of land, and the college also has a powerful alumni base. So, developing a senior living community was an desirable prospect, and the college approached Dallas-based Greenbrier Improvement with the thought quite a few several years back.

Contemplating the vast size of the Berry campus, there were various choices for where to identify a CCRC, Greenbrier First Vice President Growth Tony Teague advised SHN. Ultimately, a web site was chosen for two good reasons: It would pay for a spectacular see of mountains and an aged quarry lake — given that named Eagle Lake — and it would be just one-third of a mile away from the scholar campus, affording straightforward accessibility.

This web-site came with difficulties, like the prevalence of the quarry rock. But Greenbrier and Berry Faculty determined that the advantages would outweigh the prices and difficulties.

Popular Reviews


Atlanta-dependent THW Design arrived on board as the architecture organization, and went through an iterative method with Greenbrier, Berry College and other challenge stakeholders to make the final strategy. Between the key things to consider had been developing a walkable local community with obtain to the faculty campus and areas for intergenerational programming, and harmonizing with the normal surroundings, THW President Jim Hudgins explained to SHN.

The architecture and design and style complete these ambitions in a wide range of ways.

For instance, the design called for raising the quality of the developing a couple toes to optimize sights down to the lake and out throughout the close by mountains, Teague explained. The developing was also configured to optimize views of the h2o from typical spaces and residing units, with the inclusion of as lots of corner models as doable.

The outstanding use of stone and glass can help link the CCRC to its purely natural environment as well as Berry Faculty, which features properties that also use these supplies. And — real to its name — The Spires at Berry College functions several spires, which also are witnessed all through the school campus.

The relationship to character and the aesthetic of Berry School carried about into the inside structure.

“We have been equipped to expend a number of days on campus and genuinely get to see the magnificence that is on their key campus and their mountain campus,” Stacy Peters, director of structure at Faulkner Layout Group, told SHN.

For the interiors, the Faulkner group produced a palette with heat neutral colours such as deep candies, heat grays and delicate ivories, with “a little bit far more punch” coming from gold and bronze tones, teal and turquoise colors impressed by Eagle Lake, and deep wine and burgundy shades encouraged by the tumble foliage, claimed Nicole Hill, senior venture supervisor at Faulkner.

The style organization also was offered accessibility to the archive of certified Berry College or university images, and framed illustrations or photos — both of those historic and current-day — are hung during the local community.

The architect and inside designers both of those highlighted the impartial dwelling foyer as a putting case in point of all these layout components. The place characteristics heat woods, a porcelain tile that emulates a Carrera marble, and stone with a break up-facial area texture, all of which drive dwelling the link to character. Still, a homey experience is also created with furnishings these kinds of as higher wingback chairs. The 30-foot ceilings include spaciousness and drama, and significant windows find the money for views of the lake and mountains.

“I imagine that lobby is very special,” Hill explained.

Whilst the Berry Faculty campus is enormous, maintaining the CCRC’s footprint as compact as attainable was a goal, to assure walkability and retain undertaking costs in examine, Hudgins claimed. But the concept did evolve to include 26 freestanding cottages and a 17-device impartial dwelling lodge, in addition to 144 independent residing residences and the assisted residing and memory care making.

The lodge was added in reaction to shifting purchaser tastes in the current market, Hudgins reported.

Spanning 400,000 square ft, the final style and design thought also incorporates a complete complement of amenity areas, these types of as a wellness center and salon, a saltwater swimming pool, official and informal eating venues, and many lounges and frequent regions. The development value was about $81 million and the all round project funds was about $130 million.

“This is a big, nicely-conceived method and execution, and it builds on the story of its sponsor, husband or wife, and neighbor, Berry University,” summed up SHN Awards decide David Dillard, principal and architect at HKS. In unique, Dillard singled out the “engagement with the lake” and the “simple, clever geometrics of the architecture” for praise.

The design

Realizing that northwest Ga can be rainy in the drop and winter season, Greenbrier negotiated with the common contractor to get an early start off on building in Oct 2018. But, irrespective of breaking floor early, rain fell on 40 of the to start with 100 times of development.

“It was a large muddy mess,” claimed Steber, who arrived from North Carolina in November 2019. “… Then the pandemic hit, and we mentioned, ‘I wish we were being just complaining about the rain.’”

In response to Covid-19, the normal contractor (GC) executed a wide range of safeguards, such as the use of wristbands to guarantee that absolutely everyone on the web site went through a wellness look at. The pandemic produced other obstacles, such as selected suppliers shutting down periodically.

Despite all these challenges, the opening was not significantly delayed. The 1st round of interior style and design set up took position in Might 2020, with a 2nd spherical in August.

“We had a actually shut performing marriage with the developer and GC, so there was a whole lot of scheduling that went into earning guaranteed our team was protected throughout the set up, and the GC dealt with it with the utmost professionalism,” Peters reported.

The very first inhabitants arrived in June 2020, and the whole campus opened in the tumble.

“It was phenomenal to see the local community take shape,” Steber claimed. “… All people set their heads down and carried on.”

The completion

Regardless of staying in the midst of a pandemic, the opening of The Spires at Berry Higher education has been thriving, thanks in component to the intergenerational element of the challenge.

In May perhaps 2020, 14 Berry School students commenced doing the job complete-time at The Spires to help prepare the group for opening and welcome its initially inhabitants. As a result of the Gates Students system, these pupils set in a “serious” range of functioning hrs each and every 12 months, with their earnings likely in aspect towards their tuition, Steber explained.

The plan is in retaining with the ethos of Berry School. The school was started off by a woman named Martha Berry at the flip of the 20th Century, and quite a few college students arrived with minimal or no money and worked to pay out for their education, including at the foundry that was found on campus at the time. Today, a lot more than 90% of pupils at Berry keep down a job, Steber reported.

“They’re striving so hard to provide them serious-existence encounters, and there is not a great deal far more genuine daily life than senior living,” Steber stated, introducing that she could see a Berry College or university college student one working day rising to come to be the executive director of the community.

The college student overall body at Berry College or university did have some initial reservations about acquiring more mature older people as neighbors, but the CCRC and university are proving to have a mutually effective romantic relationship.

“The citizens are thrilled to loss of life to be involved day by day with all these wonderful students, and the pupils are definitely loving the reality that they are obtaining to know the citizens so perfectly,” Steber said.

The pandemic has place a crimp in how lots of routines can arise, but intergenerational programming and interaction will maximize as Covid-19 wanes. Residents at the CCRC will be ready to just walk the route around to the higher education to audit courses, go to theatrical productions and show up at sporting events.

“We have soccer players here, we all know their quantities,” Steber explained. “We simply cannot wait around for online games we notify them that they are heading to be so humiliated to have 200 persons cheering for them on the sidelines.”

The link to nature, in conditions of the views and the alternatives for out of doors pursuits like mountaineering, has also been a huge gain all through Covid-19, she explained. People have remarked on what a impressive location The Spires is to shelter in place.

“We were able to be listed here and mature a feeling of group. We have been together, absolutely safe, socially distanced, masks up … we opened that way, so it does not come to feel that odd to us,” Steber claimed.

Although lease-up is slower than would be anticipated less than standard situation, far more than 100 persons have moved in given that June, Teague pointed out. And he is very pleased that Greenbrier and the rest of the challenge workforce have been in a position to provide some thing so bold and distinctive to the marketplace.

“We all labored alongside one another pretty challenging, a whole lot of lengthy several hours to get this group open,” he explained. “Even in advance of Covid, there was a great determination to make this the greatest challenge we could … it is genuinely one of a kind.”