The Summit Squashes Traditional Perceptions of Senior Living

October 15, 2012
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Austin stone, Costa Esmeralda granite, patina copper, and mahogany are all woven together in the Main Street lobby. Photo credit: Charles Davis Smith. Custom leather and crocodile chairs, pool tables in a mahogany finish, and a competition-level shuffleboard table elevate the experience in the game room. Photo credit: Charles Davis Smith. Lounging along the infinity edge, members can rest in luxurious chaises after swimming laps in the saltwater pool. Photo credit: Charles Davis Smith.
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The owners of The Summit would prefer that you not refer to it as a “senior center.”

In fact, that was the overarching message that Suzi Muszynski, interior designer for Brinkley Sargent Architects of Dallas, received from day one of the project. “They really wanted to explore the idea of an ‘adult activity center,’” she says, “to kind of squash that mentality of televisions and gray concrete walls.”

Funded by the city of Grand Prairie, Texas, The Summit is an expansive, all-encompassing day facility for the 55-and-up crowd, designed to bring the outside in with granite, marble, stone, and sleek walls of glass. The interiors build on that theme with, among other touches, leather chairs and lots of natural wood.

“It was very inspiring for me, creating a space that’s like a country club, but also accessible for wheelchairs, walkers—just everyday getting around,” Muszynski says.

“The materials create a durable and upscale appearance,” says IIDA juror Amy H. Lopez, Smith Seckman Reid Inc. Adds juror Peggy Noakes, American Art Resources: “What a powerful concept! The thoughtful, creative, and motivating interiors encourage physical exercise in all aspects of the environment.” These aspects helped The Summit claim Best in Category honors for Senior Living and Residential Health, Care, and Support Facilities in IIDA’s competition.

Muszynski marvels at the vitality of the clientele, including a 92-year-old woman she met who was on her way to water aerobics. “We’re living longer, and we’re living healthier longer,” Muszynski says. “It’s amazing how this place is always packed.”

For a breakdown of all the winning projects in IIDA's Healthcare Interior Design Competition, please see "Winners Announced in IIDA Healthcare Interior Design Competition". For an in-depth look at the Best in Competition winner Bayt Abdullah Children’s Hospice, please see Children’s Hospice Creates Normalcy Through Family-Friendly Design. To read about the winner of Best in Category for Ambulatory Care Centers, the Brooklyn Infusion Center, please see "An Innovative Approach to Infusion Clinics Sets Up Shop in Brooklyn."