Case Study: The Memory Center Atlanta

April 09, 2019

Interface flooring helps foster patient independence

Project: The Memory Center Atlanta

Contractor: McMichael’s Construction Co., Inc.

Interior Designer: Liliana Alvarado, design principal, Uphealing, Bedford, N.H.

Flooring: Interface LVT; Level Set collection; Interface Carpet

The Memory Center in Atlanta strives to offer dementia patients the one thing they’re hard-pressed to find elsewhere — independence. Using evidence-based design principles, Lilliana Alvarado, design principal of Uphealing in Bedford, N.H., helped parent corporation MemCare realize its vision of a unique facility that offered patients the familiarity, variety and freedom they need to thrive, selecting Interface’s LVT Level Set Collection and Interface carpet to help complete the design.

Atlanta is the third Memory Center location (two in Virginia), and all three locations feature a town center with amenity spaces such as a salon, a general store, a theater, and much more. Each also incorporates local landmarks and iconic street names to bring a local flair and provide a sense of the familiar. Alvarado was brought in after construction was underway in Atlanta, so she relied on finishings such as wallcoverings, flooring and furniture to distinguish and elevate each area.

Uphealing designer Liliana Alvarado specified Interface’s Natural Woodgrains LVT
in Distressed Hickory
 for the Memory Center’s General Store.

“Before, every amenity space looked the same. So, I tried to make each space unique, and I think we were successful with that,” she said.

One significant change was the flooring. The other locations had used porcelain tiles in the town center and in many amenity areas, but Alvarado was concerned that the grout lines and transitions from hard to soft surfaces could pose a tripping hazard for patients with walkers and similar devices. So, Alvarado chose Interface’s LVT. “When my Interface rep presented the LVT with the same thickness as the carpet tile, it was a no brainer,” she said. “MemCare was excited about it as well because obviously, patient safety is a priority for them. In fact, they’re looking at renovating the first two facilities with Interface as well.”

Alvarado also used different styles of Interface LVT and carpet tile throughout the spaces, including a stone look LVT for dining areas and a warmer wood color in resident rooms. Each area is meant to be beautiful and distinct, but the town center is by far the biggest hit. “People have said what makes this whole town center is the floor. It really stands out,” said Julie Taylor, The Memory Center Atlanta’s executive director. And, unlike traditional hard floors, the acoustics with Interface’s LVT haven’t been an issue. “Everyone has been able to hear with every entertainer we’ve had. We have little kids come sing and it works well,” she said.

Natural Woodgrains LVT in Teak from Interface’s Level Set collection
help create the homey feel of the patient rooms.

Alvarado created a unique design for the town center using two colors of Interface’s woodgrain LVT, offset with “exterior” brick walls and shingled shop walls. Large windows allow more natural light and a greater connection to the courtyard, which includes seating and winding walking paths surrounded by scented gardens and bird feeders. The larger indoor area also provides more opportunity for exercise.

Because each space has its own look and feel, patients are motivated to explore the various neighborhoods, as well as the town center. “This design makes the residents feel like they live in a neighborhood and can go ‘outside’ in the town center without having to ask permission,” said Kevin DiBona, The Memory Center’s chairman and CEO. “The residents feel a sense of purpose because they volunteer to ‘work’ in the general store, not just shop there. They plant flowers, herbs and vegetables in raised beds in the courtyards and, again, feel a sense of purpose having to water them. They are so proud to be supplying vegetables to the kitchen.”

MEASURING SUCCESS

Because adult patients with dementia are unable to rationalize the need for boundaries, many experience varying degrees of agitation when placed in care. They simply want to leave. Since The Memory Center Atlanta has created a thriving community with plenty of activity, spatial variety and a realistic illusion of being out on the town, residents who exhibited that behavior at other facilities don’t exhibit it here. “A couple of patients who had to leave other memory care centers because they were unable to adjust have come here and they’ve been fine. That behavior just goes away. It’s been fun to watch how it actually works,” Taylor said.

Alvarado included a tavern for residents as a social gathering spot.
The Tavern area is equipped with Interface’s Natural Woodgrains LVT in Reclaimed Hickory.

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