HOW A CENTURY-OLD IDEA CAN REVOLUTIONIZE NURSING HOMES IN ROCHESTER, NY.
Architects and industrial designers in the 20th century held to one simple edict that transformed almost every aspect of our current day lives. Maybe you’ve heard it: form follows function.
Architect Louis Sullivan coined this saying in an essay he published in 1896, launching what has become known as modernist architecture1. The idea behind Sullivan’s maxim is that the shape of a building or object (its form) should primarily relate to its intended purpose (its function).
It sounds obvious today that a thing should be designed with its purpose in mind. Yet, in a world influenced by the Renaissance, the Baroque, and Neoclassicism, the idea that the intended use of a thing should determine how it is formed was revolutionary.
Sullivan and his contemporaries ushered in a new way of thinking about the spaces we live and work in, as well as the products and services we all use. At its core was the recognition that these spaces and objects should first serve the needs of the people that used them.
Now, 120 years later, designers are still guided by Sullivan’s maxim. They ask questions like, “what problem are we trying to solve?” and “how will people use this?” Then they set about creating services that are intuitive, technologies that fit seamlessly into our lives, and even tackling grand projects like revitalizing a city block so it’s a welcoming place to spend an afternoon dining and shopping.
Sullivan’s maxim has guided The Maplewood for decades. Recently, as we prepared to renovate and expand our building, we revisited form follows function and thought long and hard about it.
We asked the question: what is the purpose of a skilled nursing facility? And, more specifically: what is the purpose of our facility? Is it to provide medical care to the elderly? Is it to create a place for socialization, to get three square meals a day? Is it any one or a combination of these things?
Of course, it’s all of them and more. In fact, we believe that at its core a long term care facility should be a place for living life as fully as possible.
We’ve been caring for seniors for over 70 years and we’ve been doing it in a way that’s different than most nursing homes. We are always working to create something special.
To do so, we continually return to a primary question: what problem are we trying to solve?
For us, the answer is and always has been: to provide the best life possible for each and every resident.
So, when you visit The Maplewood, you’ll notice all the resident rooms are private. You’ll also notice they are large—really large—and they are elegantly appointed. You’ll notice our building is welcoming and doesn’t look like a multi-story hospital. You’ll notice that we’re eliminating traditional nursing stations for a more concierge-like approach to integrating our nurses with our residents. You’ll notice our kitchen is exactly what you’d see in your favorite restaurant and not an industrial hub sending out racks of oatmeal and Jell-O. You’ll notice our transportation vehicles are not commercial-grade busses covered in logos, but are instead modest, unmarked, late-model minivans. You’ll notice a difference in our staff, our lifestyle, and our care.
The biggest thing we think you’ll notice is that everything at the Maplewood is designed for living—everything is designed with the warmth and style that gives people joy. Our form follows our function.
We’re here to facilitate life and help your loved one thrive. Aging can be difficult and it’s upsetting to see someone we love come to need skilled nursing. No one wants to move their loved one into a nursing home. We understand.
Even 120 years after Sullivan’s insight, nursing homes can seem impersonal, clinical, noisy, industrial, colorless, and even a little depressing—not places to live.
We’ve worked hard at The Maplewood to break that paradigm and create a nursing home that’s designed for living. We invite you to come see and judge for yourself. We believe you’ll find a nursing home that’s distinctly different—a place for living life. What greater function, what greater purpose, could a nursing home serve than living life to its fullest?