The Baldwin

Architecture firm: DiMella Shaffer

Owner: Edgewood Retirement Community

Location: Londonderry, New Hampshire

Category: Special recognition

Project goals

The main project goal of The Baldwin is to create a community based on the principles of Live/Work/Play where seniors are integrated in a multi-generational environment. Urban diversity and placemaking were the main ingredients to achieve the project goals.

All amenities are intentionally located throughout multiple buildings, inviting residents to interact with the community beyond just their home. Storefronts and activity spaces are all visible and accessible from the street sidewalk level as well as through an internal promenade for use during prohibitive weather. A bridge connects both sides of the street to ensure that residents can circulate throughout the development during inclement weather.

Amenity spaces such as the restaurant, cafe, art gallery, general store, the salon and the health clinic—traditionally only accessible to residents of such senior communities—were purposely located along the sidewalk and designed as retail spaces that can attract patrons of both The Baldwin and the larger Woodmont Commons PUD (planned unit development). Such gestures reinforce the project mission of integrating older adults into their community and fostering multi-generational activities.

"The retail spaces attract those inside and outside in the community, and they have created an inviting, centralized space in the lobby." - Jury comment

The outward-focused project site plan with programmed outdoor spaces, fitness plaza, dining terraces, walking paths, and bike paths creates a walkable urban community that is welcoming to all residents and visitors. Older adults, neighbors, and friends have the opportunity to remain engaged through the multiple opportunities provided on site that supports their health and wellbeing.

Unique features

Based on the principles of mixed-use developments and placemaking and differing from traditional Life Plan Communities where a singular architectural expression symbolizes the overall community, all six buildings onsite are designed to reflect their mixed-use purposes and emphasize their individuality.

The architectural language of The Baldwin is inspired by cues taken from downtown urban areas of New England towns and farmhouse typology and materials local to Southern New Hampshire. The overall development is composed of a mix of both commercial “plaza” buildings and residential “garden” buildings to create architectural diversity similarly found in nearby towns.

The plaza buildings are mixed-use, with three stories of residential apartments and amenities on the ground floor. The garden buildings have three upper residential floors and garden apartments on the ground floor with direct access from the street through an internal courtyard. Garden and plaza buildings were carefully located along the main drive to promote architectural diversity along the urban corridor and contribute to a lively street scene. Each building has its own address and separate entrance along the sidewalk.

The project was designed based on principles of both multi-family housing and hospitality. The urban site layout, with buildings located on both sides of the main drive and the bridge connecting them, allowed shorter travel distances between apartment building and common areas. Furthermore, the intentional spread of amenities on the ground floors of residential buildings B and E, made it even more convenient for residents to access the desired amenities.

The Baldwin utilizes contextual exterior materials with these contemporary designs and details:

  • large porcelain tile in varying shades emulates local NH stone and granite
  • fiber cement siding represents the traditional wood siding of New England homes
  • wood infused with resin and wood imitation porcelain tile adds a natural feel and warm tones to the building facades
  • sloped roofs clad in synthetic slate fall in line with the local New Hampshire aesthetic
  • exterior materials are integrated throughout the building, bringing the natural aesthetic indoors
  • natural oak and walnut wood paneling and stone-looking porcelain tile constitute the base of the interior design

The open interior layout of the common areas allows residents to “see and be seen” and participate in community activities on a daily basis. Throughout the different amenities, the interior finishes reflect this open concept. They are thoughtfully selected to reflect the southern New Hampshire locale and to ensure a continuation in the aesthetics and circulation flow. A contemporary palette with biophillic elements reinforces the connectivity with the outdoors. They include local natural elements such as granite, rustic wood, natural oak, and walnut as well as reused farm elements such as apple crates serving as ceiling and light fixtures in the farm to table cafe. The carpet is custom designed and wallpapers display patterns inspired by nature.

Design challenges

Allowing for public access to the buildings’ amenity spaces while ensuring security was a challenge given the desire to maintain an inviting, open layout. The design team carefully located public-facing amenities along the sidewalk to allow the general public entry, but also developed secure access points to maintain a secure environment for the residents living there. The main entrance is monitored by a reception desk, residential lobbies are card accessed, and amenities such as the cafe, restaurant, and general store have two access points (one from the street and one internally that could be secured after hours).

The main challenge for the exterior architectural expression was incorporating diversity while also achieving a cohesive design aesthetic throughout the six total buildings across the campus. The solution was achieved through a series of consistent elements including color, building type (garden or plaza building), roof shape, and balcony protrusion, each integrated differently based on the location. Similar materials, similar window types, and building repetition helped knit the development together visually.

Additional information

Project attributes

Project site context/setting: Rural

Is this project a LifePlan Community? yes

Provider type: non-sectarian non-profit

Target market: middle/upper middle

Project area - GSF of new construction: 589,000

Project area - GSF of additions: n/a

Project area - GSF of renovations: n/a

Project team

Building Envelope Consultant: Building Envelope Technologies, Inc. (BET)

Code Consultant: AKF Group

Engineer - acoustics: Acentech

Food Service Designer: Crabtree McGrath

Interior Designer: DiMella Shaffer

Lighting Consultant: Collaborative Lighting

Pool Consultant: RMD Collaborative


Quinn deMenna, AIA, Chair, City Invincible, Camden, New Jersey

Steve Leone, AIA, Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc., New York, NY

Steve Lindsey, Garden Spot Village, New Holland, Pennsylvania

Dean Maddalena, Studio Six5, Austin, TX

Rhonda Spector, 2Life Communities, Brighton, Massachusetts

Image credits

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