Architect: HGA Architects and Engineers
Owner: ThedaCare Community Health Network
Contractor: Boldt Construction
The site is a rural and suburban field on the edge of Berlin, Wisconsin, a pre-Civil War small town filled with historic wood-framed houses. Rural roads leading to Berlin are lined with these white, steep-pitch gabled wood-framed farmhouses with orange brick fireplaces.
The 43,000 SF single-story nursing home accommodates 40 short-term, long-term and memory care residents and is designed to evoke a home-like and comfortable feel. The facility includes a memory care wing, a wing for more active residents, visitors and administration wing, as well as a dining, kitchen and support services wing. Not only does this maximize operational efficiencies by creating individual communities that share common spaces, but it creates a more intimate feel for the one-story sprawling structure.
To solve the problem of making a very large one-story institutional building look “like home”, the local vernacular wood-frame house form was adopted and repeatedly used to break down the scale of the building and to imbue an intimate residential character. Resident rooms, living and dining spaces as well as the entry lobby were articulated as white, steep-pitch gabled houses with dark roofs and double-hung windows. These “houses” are connected with a neutral flat-roofed connective building containing all services and circulation. White picket fences, common in old Berlin, are used to allow residents to spend time outdoors in a controlled environment. A series of carefully configured courtyards can be used by residents, and are seen from single-loaded circulation spaces inside. Major interior spaces such as dining spaces, living rooms and the entry lobby have cathedral ceilings up into the gabled roofs, with white-washed wood trusses and decking exposed. Planks of wood grain flooring are used extensively throughout the facility, redolent of the wood floors in all of the local houses. Orange clay brick, identical to that found in older local houses, was used for living room fireplaces for both wings, recalling the powerful memory of the hearth as a symbol of home.
Photos: Darris Lee Harris Photography