Midvale Senior Center
Designed to promote active aging, the Midvale Senior Center provides a new model in the design of senior centers. Part of Salt Lake County’s 19-center network of senior centers, this 20,000-square-foot facility supports the geographic area comprised primarily of Midvale City, a historic, yet rapidly growing city of nearly 40,000 people in the geographic center of the county.
The center was designed to facilitate Salt Lake County’s goal of providing facilities that are more intentionally welcoming to baby boomers without alienating the older senior population. The design incorporates features and strategies based on non-institutional precedents, which included contemporary spas, country clubs, cafes, and fitness centers. To promote connections to the community, the building is relatively transparent (compared to other, earlier centers in the county system), incorporates unique materials based on local precedents, and provides numerous connections to its generous exterior spaces.
"It is what it is—a community center for anyone. It is a noteworthy piece of architecture that connects to the place it came from, which is not easy to do." - Jury comment
The center incorporates a cafe. which serves both the walk-in public as well as the center's senior clientele. Supported by a full commercial kitchen, the cafe provides coffee, pastry, and site-prepared lunches-to-order as well as daily specials, which are also the standard, no-cost meals to eligible seniors. In addition, the center provides a variety of classes and art studios as well as wellness programs in its fitness space and exercise machine room.
The Midvale Senior Center is part of a redevelopment initiative for Midvale’s historic Main Street and nearby neighborhoods. The senior center anchors the north end of the existing downtown and creates a transition between Midvale’s new city hall and the adjacent redeveloping historic warehouse/industrial district. The facility is comprised of three components: a one-story brick-clad building, respective of the commercial storefronts of Main Street; a perforated steel stair tower referencing nearby historic grain silos; and a two-story steel-framed building which is sheathed in copper and wood panels, recalling Midvale’s historic steel milling, railroading, and copper smelting industries.
The design of the Midvale Senior actively engages Main Street by locating the main entrance, cafe and recreation spaces directly on the sidewalk. The overall parking area was reduced by 33% through a shared parking agreement with adjacent city hall. Along the north edge of the senior center site, a new civic plaza was created between the senior center and the new city hall. This plaza is an open civic space to be used for weekend events, including a weekly summer farmers’ market, as well as for weekday parking.
The center provides intuitive way-finding and user orientation as well as sense of security through transparency and spatial connectedness. The Center incorporates extensive sky and side lighting systems, strategically designed to reduce glare and unwanted solar heat gain. Acoustic absorption, sound transmission through interior and exterior walls, and reduced background noise from mechanical systems enhance the auditory experience in the building.
Community and user outreach
The design team worked closely with project stakeholders, which included the city of Midvale, Salt Lake County Aging Services, the Salt Lake County Percent for Arts program, and the users of the existing senior center. The team implemented various public outreach activities, including user surveys, stakeholder interviews and public open houses to ensure broad input and buy-in. The team’s extensive project research and integrated approach to design ensured a contextually appropriate design, a community-driven program, as well as a building with high sustainable performance objectives.
Project sustainability strategies
The project was awarded a LEED-Gold certification. A key objective of this project was the sustainable redevelopment of an already-established location that is highly walkable to senior housing, basic services and civic facilities as well as linked to various public transit systems, including Salt Lake’s light rail system. Other objectives included: reduced energy use by 28% (compared to ASHRAE 90.1 building energy standard), low noise and high controllability through high efficiency VRF (variable refrigerant flow) system; enhanced daylighting in conjunction with controllable LED lighting; and reduced potable water use by 41% through low flow fixtures.
Storm water runoff from this site was reduced to pre-development flows through use of a detention system that allows water to naturally infiltrate. The landscape includes water-wise plant species, and the irrigation system is 56% more efficient than average. A community garden for the users of the senior center was provided on site to encourage locally grown fruits and vegetables.