Hillcrest is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. This retirement community was created in 1947; the objective was to provide appropriate housing for all the residents. Through time and expansion, Hillcrest grew outward, never looking at what was creating the central core of the community. The approach that was taken to create a central core for this project was to design a “Village Center” for the community—its identity.

The Village Center came with design challenges. One of these challenges was fulfilling the desire to provide various program enhancements without losing units. The result was the introduction of the first two-story buildings. The design approach implemented was to keep all the units for various stages of senior living and to add enhancements such as the Aquatic Fitness Center. The outcome was four buildings with outdoor activity areas. The Village Center is being executed in three phases.

The first phase included the expansion of the existing dining area, Pinecrest Apartments—a 20-unit apartment building with a multipurpose room—and the Aquatic Fitness Center. The Aquatic Fitness Center was included in the program of the Village Center to complete the exercise program. The building was designed so that the activities coordinator could supervise both the pool and exercise room from the office. The Aquatic Fitness Center has improved the center core of the community.

The second phase includes Birch Court and Maple Court (60 assisted living units and apartments), connecting to the dining area. Maple Court and Birch Court offer other amenities, such as a salon, spa, and chapel for the residents. All these common areas provide the residents with nodes for interaction.

The Meeting House, part of the third phase, is currently under construction. The Meeting House will accommodate not only the needs of the CCRC, but also will meet the needs of several community groups in the area and will include a library, a café, and large meeting rooms. The Meeting House will provide areas for interaction with diverse activities that enable the users to live quality lives.

The design for the new Village Center gives the community a distinct image. This is an ambitious renovation/replacement of an outdated facility. The strength of the design is the updated common areas that speak to the needs of today's seniors.

Project category: Project in progress (October 2006)

Chief administrator: Charles E. Cable, President and Chief Executive Officer, (909) 392-4362

Firm: Irwin Pancake Architects, (714) 556-5774

Design team: Irwin Pancake Architects, Architect (Irwin Pancake Architects); Hillcrest, Owner (Hillcrest); The Weitz Company, Inc., Contractor (The Weitz Company, Inc.)

Total building area (sq. ft.): 163,311 (new); 5,000 (renovation)

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $135 (new); $150 (renovation)

Total construction cost (excluding land): $22,000,000 (new); $750,000 (renovation)