Design Decisions October 2018

It’s probably not a big stretch to presume that there aren’t many assisted living communities with their own tugboat. There is at least one that does, however — the recently opened Aegis Living of West Seattle.

Seriously — they have a tugboat. It forms the centerpiece of the community’s memory care courtyard and has a connection to the locale and to Aegis CEO Dwayne Clark.

The Norene has sailed the waters of Washington’s Puget Sound for the better part of a century and amazingly is still active today after an extensive renovation. It is the namesake of Clark’s mother-in-law, Norene Ott, whose father worked on the boat more than 80 years ago.

“He was a man of the sea and loved the water,” Clark says. “My mother-in-law lives near the community and was surprised and happy to see the boat in our courtyard.”

Because the “real” Norene is still navigating the waters of Puget Sound, the Aegis boat comes from Minnesota, where it had been in drydock after years of sailing the Great Lakes. Placed onto a flatbed truck and shipped to Seattle, the new Norene landed in its resting spot after being offloaded by a crane.

The tugboat — as novel as it is — is just part of the waterfront theme at Aegis Living of West Seattle, which has the capacity for 50 assisted living and 33 memory care residents. Incorporating a sapphire blue and soft white color palette, the two-story entrance hall features blown glass chandeliers, sunbaked stone and décor inspired by the blue ocean water. Ocean-themed artwork and pottery from seafaring Mediterranean ports of Capri and Mallorca are prominently showcased.

Other noteworthy aspects of the Puget Sound-inspired design include a salt-water aquarium shaped like a submarine so that residents can feel as if they are looking out of a sub’s portals; water tanks containing live jellyfish in the main lobby; a movie theater shaped like a ship’s bow; an Admiral’s Lounge that features a ship’s wheel and other nautical memorabilia; and blown-glass depictions of 33 squid in a glass case.

One of Clark’s favorite segments is a rooftop bar that sports nine flat-screen TVs and a huge fire pit. It includes cameras that take live shots of the cityscape, so patrons can get a panoramic view from the figurative crow’s nest.

As a serious student of architectural design, Clark enjoys devising themes for each Aegis community. For instance, others are modeled after Seattle’s Pike Street Fish Market and the popular Downton Abbey television show.

Grand openings are special occasions, in which special celebrity guests, such as Linda Evans and Loni Anderson, take part in the festivities.

“It’s our disruptive thinking that leads us down this path,” he says.