After much deliberation, St. John’s Medical Center decided on an architectural firm to design the new Living Center.
Facilities Committee Chairwoman Liz Masek told the board of trustees and hospital staff that committee members felt confident in choosing Anderson Mason Dale Architects, a Denver firm that was the American Institute of Architects’ 2017 Firm of the Year in Colorado.
The project team includes David Pfeifer, principal in charge, John Graham, project manager, Paul Haack, design principal, Bill Brummett, senior living planner and Beth Mosenthal, project architect.
Masek praised their senior living expertise, planning and design and “expertise building in the challenging climate of the Rocky Mountain West.”
She also noted the importance of the firm being experienced and licensed in Wyoming.
“They understand that process,” Masek said. “And that can really either expedite or slow down the project.”
A varied portfolio
Anderson Mason Dale projects include everything from research and clinical facilities to living centers, universities, libraries and more. Teton County citizens might remember the name from the firm’s role as the architects of Jackson Hole High School. Anderson Mason Dale has also been chosen by a state selection process to work in tandem with Carney Logan Burke on Central Wyoming College’s new Jackson campus, also funded partially through the specific purpose excise tax election in May.
Citizens allocated $17 million in SPET funds for the new Living Center. The St. John’s Hospital Foundation must raise $9 million to cover half the remaining costs. Another $9 million will come from the hospital’s capital project budget. The total project cost is estimated to be $35 million.
Masek said that the architects were impressive in person and that their work wouldn’t be “formulaic or simply an edited version of someone else’s solution” because the best design solutions are “very specific to an individual place and context.”
“We were very moved by their last visit,” she said. “They visited with staff and residents, and we think their process will be very holistic and organic. It was palpable, the excitement they felt when they met our staff. They are coming in here to figure out who we are. They understand this is a community-wide project.”
Director of Nursing Cheryl Sawyer told the room she, too, felt moved, getting choked up as she said staffers were excited with the choice of Anderson Mason Dale.
The heart of the matter is determining the mix of beds within the Living Center. The new Living Center will provide a variety of services, including long-term residential care, memory care, short-term rehabilitation and hospice care.
Hospital staff hasn’t determined how much capacity each service should or needs to provide, which would dictate design substantially.
“We want to make sure that we have the right mix,” Masek said.
It’s challenging, she said, to look 20 years into the future and try to predict who wants to age in Jackson and what the percentage of residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia could be.
“Part of our challenge is to try and predict, with as much valid information as we can get, what our needs will be,” Masek said.
In addition to hiring Anderson Mason Dale, St. John’s is entering into a contract with Cappella Living Solutions consultants to help decide the best mix of beds and a business plan. CEO Paul Beaupre said the contract would cost the hospital roughly $25,000.
St. John’s will negotiate with the firm to formalize the process. Masek emphasized that there will be focus groups and open public sessions to help determine the direction of the designs.
“We are very excited because we have this opportunity to take a five-star living center, even without a new building, and now do something very unique,” Masek said.
Curious what the building might look like? Schematic designs, Masek noted, aren’t ready for release or representative of what actual designs might look like. But she and others are confident that in future site visits, Anderson Mason Dale will be able to determine that community members are passionate about the environment and taking care of one another.
“The question is, how do we build a center that really engages our seniors in living?” Masek asked. “It’s a whole different attitude.”