Shaker Pointe at Carondelet
Albany, New York - Shaker Pointe is an Independent Living community with varied housing options and a multi-faceted community center. The project’s 30 acre site is across the street from the sponsor’s facility and adjacent to an existing group of senior housing apartments and an existing apartment community with a high senior population (a naturally occurring retirement community, or NORC).
The site plan utilizes the existing public roads and infrastructure. The various housing types have separate access to the public streets. A walkway system connects all groups of buildings to each other. Extensive environmentally sensitive areas occupy almost 75% of the property. These open space areas combined with the views of the sloping meadows of the sponsor’s property place the community in an expansive natural setting.
The sponsor and developer’s goal of bringing services to the surrounding senior community is accomplished by a community center design that places it in the heart of a campus formed by the existing and new buildings. The portion of the community center called ‘The Pointe’ fronts on the public street adjacent to the existing senior community. The Pointe is open to the public, as well as the residents of Shaker Pointe. The Pointe includes a restaurant, café, general store, pool, fitness center and clinic. Support services are shared with the Shaker Pointe community center. The other ‘half’ of the community center is for the use of the Shaker Pointe residents. It has its own covered entrance, reception area, dining venues, great room, theater, activity rooms, lounge and library.
The concept of opening community spaces and programs to the greater public is particularly noteworthy. The developers and sponsors vision allows more comprehensive services to be delivered while simultaneously building a caring community that includes the residents of the project and the senior residents in the surrounding environs. By expanding the service population residents enjoy a greater breadth of service than could otherwise be accommodated in a single senior project. Another tremendous positive outcome from this approach is that it allows services to reach people of all economic means who could not or would not seek these services unless a community, such as Shaker Pointe, were fostering the programs and underwriting some of the costs of establishing programs and community spaces to accommodate programs.
Our most challenging obstacle was the fragmented distribution of developable land limited by the extent and location of environmentally sensitive areas. The developable areas were limited to plots of various sizes along the street frontages making it impossible to create an internal driveway system and a campus–like arrangement of buildings.
We overcame this challenge by creating a strong architectural theme shared among the building types, and placing the building groups as separate but related mini-communities strongly connected with a comprehensive walkway system. We came to view the entire setting as the campus (including the sponsor’s property across the street) and the existing roads as the internal organizing circulation. The result is a community where each building group is a neighborhood with a public face.