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  • Writer's pictureZ Group Architecture & Interior Design

The Sopris Lodge Discovery Series: Introduction

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Ground is broken. We are extremely proud… no, privileged to announce that construction is underway on the new Sopris Lodge Assisted Living campus in Carbondale, Colorado. While we don’t play favorites when it comes to projects, whether a contemporary 2,500 square feet single-family alpine retreat, a one-of-a-kind on-mountain restaurant, or a luxury resort lodge, we are particularly fond of this one. All of our projects receive exceptional attention and detail to ensure that we meet our client’s needs while achieving architectural excellence. However, some projects, such this Sopris Lodge Assisted Living campus, have a social interest that commits them to a category of their own. That being said, we will be detailing the progression and discussing our approach over several blog entries during the construction phase this summer.

The Sopris Lodge is an independent and assisted living campus totaling nearly 74,000 square feet. Located just one block off of Main Street in Carbondale, its location is ideal for providing residences independence and community connection. Downtown Carbondale is an easy walk away. This is essential for residences who have spent their lives in the Roaring Fork Valley and want to keep their families, restaurants, and social organizations in close proximity without the need to drive. The residences have direct access to the Rio Grande Trail for walking or cycling and reaffirms the value of independence.

The Independent Living building is a 2-story wing-shaped building boasting 33,243 square feet. It is comprised of 30 very well appointed apartments. Amenities include a bistro and a bar along with al fresco seating and dining. Three lounge and game rooms allow for a range of seating and use options to satisfy any choice of ambiance and activity. We included a spa with a hot tub as well as a salon, and, of course, a fitness center. Moreso are the spaces for family and self, including a multipurpose room for private or scheduled events, a room dedicated and suited for visits with the grandchildren, as well as a library, a meditation room, the entry’s welcoming hearth room, and even a pet service center for tenants to visit with animals. On the lower level are individual storage units that alleviate the encumbrance of seasonal items or sports equipment. Our objective was to create a building that operates and feels like a microcosm. It provides comforts found at a resort, but with the casual convenience of a rather small village. Though again, let’s not forget its proximity to Carbondale, which enriches the residents quality of life.

Across the landscaped roundabout entry is the Assisted Living and Memory Care building. The first floor is home to the memory care amenities and living units. Nearly 33,000 square feet houses 24 dwelling units, a full dining room with a commercial kitchen, library, multipurpose room, therapy and fitness center, media room, salon, and a large 2 story-central courtyard. Essential to the interior was the orientation of the corridors, they ambulate around the units in a ring. This is one of many design elements that specifically address the needs of memory care residents. By allowing residents to stroll and always be guided back to where they began mitigates confusion. This may seem trivial, but along with other deliberate design choices, it becomes significant. For instance, the hallways have been treated to resemble streetscapes. With seating outside the units, residences can sit and gather in much the way you would with your neighbors on a porch. The central outdoor courtyard and the Memory Care Garden are both directly accessible from the Memory Care floor and built with clearly defined entrances, paths, and no dead ends. They are safe places for residents to feel more independent. The therapeutic benefit of having access to living growing gardens is irrefutable, they stimulate the senses and engage mental activity. It’s only natural for people to retreat to nature for rejuvenation. We have had the good fortune to work with landscape architect Julie Wolverton on this garden and will have images to share of this in time.

The second floor is home to the Assisted Living residents, with 24 dwelling units we repeated the ring-shaped corridors on the first floor’s Memory Care and included a second story overlooks into the central outdoor courtyard. The Assisted Living floor also provides a full-service dining room and kitchen, salon, multipurpose room, library, media room, therapy, and fitness center.

The term “retirement home” does not belong here, it’s too embroiled with a negative stigma that many assisted living facilities have developed in years past. We at Z-Group Architects, in collaboration with Pacifica Senior Living RE Fund, LLC, Rocky Mountain Senior Housing, WellAge Senior Communities, Evolve Structural Design, River City Consultants, Inc., Bighorn Consulting Engineers, Inc., Yeh and Associates, Inc. and Julie Wolverton, Landscape Architect, pay close attention to studies being done with memory care. We feel that architecture married with medical studies are leading us in creating buildings that truly improve and prolong lives. We have committed ourselves to these facilities and campuses and will continue to follow both the science and design to fulfill our client’s needs. Families age at different paces, Alzheimer’s is very hard, but it happens. Our campus allows for families to stay together and receive the care they individually need; for one spouse may need memory care assistance and independence may be vital to the other. Aging is part of everyone’s lives and as architects, we take responsibility in designing dwellings that take care of our aging family and community.

Architect Zaha Hadid said, “I don’t think that architecture is only about shelter… It should be able to excite you, to calm you, to make you think” and we at Z-Group Architects can expand on that because we believe architecture can care for and heal you, too.

As construction progresses we will circle back to the Sopris Lodge Assisted Living campus and dive a little deeper into the project as well as Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care facilities. Visit the Sopris Lodge Assisted Livingportfolio page to learn more!


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