Groton Senior Center
The expansion of the Groton Senior Center in Groton, Conn., has met the need for more programming space as well as the desires and expectations of the city's growing senior citizen population, which is expected to exceed 37 percent of all residents by the year 2025.
The amenities and new program spaces at the center—the expansion of which was completed in March 2010 at a cost of more than $9.3 million—aim to meet a range of goals outlined by Groton Senior Center Director Mary Jo Riley, from improved communication and socialization opportunities to pursuit of physical fitness and learning. In addition, she wanted the center to increase seniors' interaction with the community at large by creating a multigenerational meeting and learning space.
Improvements to the new facility include more space for social interaction and wellness, as well as site improvements and security upgrades. The new facility features a 250 percent increase in parking, efforts to expand the number of handicapped parking spaces, and locating a greater percentage of spaces directly adjacent to the building. Other upgrades incorporated multiple building entrance points and increased site lighting.
Meanwhile, the dining/entertaining space, which now is 30 percent larger, was designed for social events, in particular, and features a performance stage. The larger space can seat up to 250 people for formal banquet events and up to 500 people for lectures or stage performances. The new stage supports the senior theater group's annual performance and local theater group performances. Meanwhile, the new kitchen is used for regular senior lunches, weekly dinners and special monthly dining events. The new venue also supports numerous traveling shows, conferences and weddings, which helps create a source of revenue for expanded center programming.
In addition, a 3,000-square-foot exercise room boasts wall mirrors, exercise bars, storage rooms, a/v system, lighting and HVAC assemblies. The space has an operable room divider that can serve two exercise classes of 40 participants or one class of up to 100 participants. The 1,600-square-foot fitness room features more than 50 pieces of equipment donated by outside vendors, as well as flat screen televisions and three walls of glass. Offering further chances for seniors to exercise, a walking circuit travels a tenth of a mile through the facility, physically connecting all of the center's activity and socialization spaces, and encouraging participation in both walking and other center activities through this connection.
Informal and formal gathering spaces, including the entrance lounge and "Main Street," connect the interior program spaces to one another, while providing a place for seniors to bond with one another and the community.
The design team used the building's expansion as an opportunity to transform the exterior aesthetic of the place, eliminating asbestos-containing materials and creating a new exterior that embodies homelike, traditional New England forms.
Overall, the improvements have proven to be successful for the center. Visitations have increased more than 100 percent since the building opened, while senior membership has experienced an upsurge.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.town.groton.ct.us
A S S O C I A T E D F I R M S
Site/Civil: TO Design LLC
Structural/MEP: SBVH Integrated Services Inc.
Preconstruction/Estimating: Construction Services of Somerset Inc.
Food Service Design: RWS Associates Inc.
General Contractor: Enfield Builders Inc.