Although no one can predict the future, the manner in which senior living communities are developed, designed, marketed and operated is changing.
Among the 65+ population, there is an expectation for next-generation living, that they can and will maintain the same level of comfort they experienced in their family homes and seek boutique offerings that focus on meaningful experiences. With a rhythm of life that demands spaces devoted to fitness and well-being, today’s senior living communities are trending toward resort-style amenities, including multiple dining options, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, spas, parks and natural spaces for increased mobility. More specifically, during summer months and in locales that are sunny and warm year-round, amenities that help beat the heat and maintain optimum health are in high demand.
In an effort to remain competitive, the John Knox Village continuing care retirement community in Pompano Beach, FL, took a hard look at existing amenities and with the help of a creative design team, reimagined the property. A phased approach toward balancing family-friendly offerings, recreation zones, and health and wellness alternatives, with flexible multi-functional spaces was proposed based on target markets and growth plans.
Opened in 1958 and recognized as a wildlife sanctuary in 2007, the 65-acre, 800-unit JKV was a well-maintained community featuring villas and high-rise residential towers. Although several building and facility updates had been performed throughout the years, over time, some features required modernization and no longer effectively address or promote enhanced livability.
Starting in 2016, after the construction of Woodlands Skilled Nursing Tower, a Green House project, JKV ownership, informed with marketing research and financial feasibility studies, embarked on the creation of a renewed master site plan to guide and prioritize capital improvements. In 2018, Village Board Members welcomed EDSA into the master planning and design visioning effort, citing the firm’s well-regarded reputation for both local planning work and high-end hospitality projects.
EDSA began the design process by garnering input from JKV leadership, as well as current and future residents. It quickly became evident that expanded lifestyle and entertainment amenities within the aquatic space were in high demand and that transforming their existing pool area into a star attraction for the enjoyment of residents and visiting families and friends was a must. Though small and lacking sufficient shade, the existing pool was popular with residents, who primarily used it for exercise and socialization.
Initial planning kept the pool in its current state while enhancing surrounding amenities. Feedback from residents, however, along with leaderships’ visits to nearby developments, inspired the incorporation of an enlarged, resort-style pool. With their resort design expertise and already working on the project as a master planner, EDSA was invited to a visioning workshop for the future aquatic complex.
During the workshop, EDSA suggested to not only enlarge the pool, but to add a separate lap pool, which required the reconfiguration of parking spaces around the new pool complex and village venter. Additional updates included the renovation and retrofit of the adjacent Village Center Auditorium Building to include a restaurant with direct pool access, as well as the addition of a pool pavilion and bar, designed by Gallo Herbert Architects and H3D Interior Design.
The result of a harmonious collaboration between the JKV leadership, architects and engineers, EDSA’s redesign of the aquatic complex includes a 2,700 square-foot leisure pool for casual swimming, water aerobics and other fitness activities; a 2,300-square-foot rectangular lap pool with four lanes for endurance-focused exercise; and a 10-foot diameter spa. Depths of the leisure pool range from three feet to five feet, six inches, whereas the lap pool varies from three feet to six feet, six inches. Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant access is provided in the form of an elegant, sloping ramp in the leisure pool, as well as a chair lift next to the lap pool.
The pools’ spacious design features both a large, free-form area for more relaxed swimming and lap lanes for exercise. In addition, a natural stone deck anchors welcoming chaise lounges and umbrellas for residents to relax and soak up the scene, and a series of alcoves cater to more private moments.
Social connectivity is further enhanced with two pickleball courts and two bocce ball courts, located to the southwest of the complex, and three fire pits, two on the pool deck, surrounded by armchairs, and one inside the pool bar. Adding to the relaxed ambiance, the area is lushly landscaped with tropical plantings, including more than 80 trees and palms including four stately Medjool Palms. Site furnishings will include four cabanas and art pieces for visual interest.
Most significantly, a large, shade-sail system covers the leisure pool as well as the sports courts, thereby allowing residents to enjoy these facilities without fearing the strong Florida sun. Designed in striking tones of blue and white, the triangular-shaped, shade-sails are composed of knitted fabric and span a maximum of 65 feet. The coordinated layout of the shade-sails ensures ample space around existing buildings and utilities.
Opened in March, the new aquatic complex is a significant upgrade for John Knox Village and quickly has proven to be a popular spot for residents — with visitation at an all-time high. EDSA’s design detailing and construction administration services for the aquatic complex expansion helped pave the way for a renewed lifestyle in retirement and senior living, where residents can happily engage in healthy activities supportive of personal independence and multigenerational social engagement with friends and family.
The next phases of renovation will see the creation of a pavilion and Independent living tower, designed around an extension of the lake. The project further will maximize outdoor living with several dining areas, walking paths around the lake and covered canopies, as well as a fourth level amenity deck with outdoor grill and putting greens.
Mihaela Zaharescu is vice president at Fort Lauderdale, FL-based landscape architecture firm EDSA.