Loneliness and isolation are under-addressed issues within the senior community. The elderly are often placed in assisted living or nursing homes, with little done to build a true community so they can live out their later years with support and dignity. Our senior veterans often need more medical care and support as they age, and the California Department of Veterans is committed to helping their veterans age with dignity. As the oldest and largest veterans’ home in the country, CalVet’s Yountville campus is registered as a National Historic District within the Napa Valley area. A 240-bed addition will provide long-term care for senior and disabled veterans, including those with dementia and traumatic brain injuries.
The new building’s composition embraces the historic campus, addresses the site challenges, and builds upon the current architectural character of the site. The campus has rich California imagery with oak trees set on rolling hills.
A memorial garden is nestled in this natural setting to honor veterans of generations past. The new five-story facility will replace and combine three existing buildings on nine of the campus’ 615 acres. The design retained the historic resources of existing buildings on campus and made them integral to this project.
The new Yountville facility, scheduled for completion in early 2024, will be designed to address issues of isolation. The design caters to the needs, abilities and well-being of older and disabled veterans at the heart of the project. It is informed by the science of gerontology, wayfinding and evidence-based design. Our design team created a community that will help individuals living with diminished physical and neurocognitive abilities not just survive, but thrive.
The simple organization of the design was intentional to aid in wayfinding within the facility. Highly visible and distinct courtyards on each side of the building, a centralized elevator bank, views from the elevator lobbies on each floor, and a straightforward path to neighborhoods all aid in members successfully finding their way to their rooms. A circulation path from the neighborhoods to ground-floor dining, gardens and member services are all thoughtfully designed for simplicity and memorable moments.
There are also enhanced HVAC systems that provide thorough circulation and ventilation, which has become more important in long-term care facilities in light of the pandemic. The facility offers residents private bedrooms designed for care and efficiency, and common areas offer a living room feel with natural lighting and views. Multiple outdoor terraces are also accessible throughout.
California is home to more than 1.8 million former service members, the largest veteran population within the United States.
The Yountville addition is beautifully composed when seen from 3,000 feet, 300 feet, 30 feet and three feet. Each point of view reveals a new set of appropriately scaled details and compositional attributes that culminate in a holistic design. It will improve the quality of life for a group of people who are often overlooked or face a lack of resources as they get older and face certain medical issues.