Peter Bulkeley Terrace Affordable Senior Housing
Architecture firm: Abacus Architects + Planners
Owner: Peter Bulkeley Terrace Senior Housing
Location: Concord, Massachusetts
Category: Special Recognition
Occupying a century-old school building in Concord, Massachusetts, the 28,000-square-foot Peter Bulkeley Terrace Senior Housing and Community Center offers 28 one-bedroom apartments for senior independent living. It is supported by a series of public spaces that encourage its residents to explore the world beyond their rooms and participate in community life. The community center is also open to an adjacent public housing development, positioning the center as a vital community asset.
"The jury recognizes the paramount community needs for affordable senior housing and commends the Concord Housing Authority and the design team for a thoughtful project."- Jury Comment
Located just two blocks from the center of Concord, the project is a model of sustainable adaptive reuse. The school was originally built in 1912 and was decommissioned in 1978, when the local housing authority transformed it into congregate housing. Only minimal improvements to the building infrastructure were made at the time.
The existing structure presented the design team with a series of challenges, including a first floor that sits three feet below grade and a second floor the hovered six feet above. The position of the two floors choked off the connection between inside and out, and the building’s interiors were cluttered with bearing walls and partitions that would not foster a sense of community.
Regrading the site down and selective wall and floor demolition were the primary remedies. The regrading allowed for a recessed patio with terraced green spaces, seating, and a ramp that continues the lower level out into the landscape. The addition of large areas of glazing and an entry pavilion help integrate the building into its context. Throughout, wood, steel, and glass shape two floors of community spaces anchored by a sculptural stair and elevator. The 28 apartments are organized around this central social core.
"Overall, it is a simple, elegant renovation for the benefit of an underserved community."- Jury Comment
“The jury recognizes the paramount community needs for affordable senior housing and commends the Concord Housing Authority and the design team for a thoughtful project,” noted the jury. “Overall, it is a simple, elegant renovation for the benefit of an underserved community.”
The design was steeped in the belief that older adults are not interested in being patronized by nostalgic re-creations of their past but, rather, are interested in engaging with the opportunities offered by the present and future. Universal design principles also shaped all public areas and apartments, which are fully accessible and feature generous maneuvering space. Color and textural changes mark spatial transitions, while built-in benches, counters, and rails throughout provide moments of support or rest. The clear spatial organization of the building combines with design details to empower older adults and those with cognitive or mobility limitations.