The Visiting Nurse’s Association of Eastern Massachusetts (VNA) was founded in 1906 by a group of Somerville women who sought to bring desperately-needed healthcare directly into people’s homes. The VNA’s current Assisted Living Communities in Somerville provide dignified, safe housing for over 200 disadvantaged residents. Recently, the VNA acquired a building in Somerville from the Little Sisters of the Poor, which will potentially provide housing for an additional 100 people. The 6-story structure, built in the 1970s, is currently a nursing home. The Little Sisters who operate the nursing home reside on the top floor. The goal is to preserve the mission of the Little Sisters of the Poor in perpetuity and to continue to serve those in need.
Payette was tasked with reprogramming the top two floors of the building. Living units on the sixth floor, where the Little Sisters reside, include several small bedrooms with shared facilities. The fifth floor is comprised of several small single occupancy units with private toilets, but shared showers. The primary objective of the renovation is to convert these smaller room types into modern, one-bedroom apartments. The new, larger units will provide residents with a private full bathroom and a living room for hosting visitors.
The Payette team included ten designers with a wide range of experience and skill sets; this breadth of experience was invaluable given what we needed to accomplish in a one-day design charette. Prior to the charrette, and in order to better understand current housing options versus desired future needs, we toured the building the VNA plans to renovate and their current facility in Somerville.
On the day of service, we started the charette by reviewing existing building conditions and identifying the elements that couldn’t move or would be too costly to modify, such as existing columns, shafts and windows. This was used to define a basic layout for each floor comprised of a central corridor with a zone on either side to be apportioned for living units.
The existing structure did not allow the corridor to run in the center of the building, making it impossible to create living units of equal size and configuration. With the VNA, we determined the best path forward was to explore several options for each floor, with varying degrees of modification to the existing conditions. This way, the cost implication of a given modification could be evaluated against potential future revenue. By the end of the charette, we developed three alternative plans for each floor. We also provided a finish and fixture layout for a typical apartment with a list of suggested materials that are cost effective, comfortable and environmentally healthy.
We are so grateful for Linda S. Cornell, one of our community partners, as her enthusiasm and generosity are a direct reflection of the VNA and its mission to provide quality care to families in the Greater Boston Area. We hope that this small contribution helps this organization to continue its mission of serving those in most need.
Visiting Nurse Communities, Inc.:
Linda S. Cornell
Rebecca McGee Sturgeon