Saturday, August 29 , 2015, 2:33 am | Fair 71.0º




The Samarkand Dedicates $4 Million LifeCenter, Designed with Residents’ Input

Cutting the ribbon and officially opening the 9,527-square-foot LifeCenter at The Samarkand retirement community in Santa Barbara are, from left, John Kennedy, newly elected president of The Samarkand Residents’ Council; Covenant Retirement Communities President Rick Fisk; Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider; resident Jeanne Michealsen, who contributed input on space usage; Alice Tooker (seated), The Samarkand’s highest seniority resident; and Samarkand resident Don Archer, chair of the resident architectural review committee.

Cutting the ribbon and officially opening the 9,527-square-foot LifeCenter at The Samarkand retirement community in Santa Barbara are, from left, John Kennedy, newly elected president of The Samarkand Residents’ Council; Covenant Retirement Communities President Rick Fisk; Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider; resident Jeanne Michealsen, who contributed input on space usage; Alice Tooker (seated), The Samarkand’s highest seniority resident; and Samarkand resident Don Archer, chair of the resident architectural review committee.  (The Samarkand photo)

By Colette Claxton for The Samarkand |

When he helped snip the opening ribbon at the standing-room-only dedication of the LifeCenter, Samarkand resident Don Archer opened the doors on a building designed with resident input from the ground up.

The Samarkand, a faith-based, nonprofit, continuing care retirement community operated by Covenant Retirement Communities, officially dedicated the 9,527-square-foot, two-story building on Monday.

The building will be the hub of resident activity at the senior living community, and when building design began in 2008, Archer chaired a five-person resident committee that reviewed and analyzed the initial plans.

“We really had a terrific committee,” he said. “A lot of our suggestions were incorporated into the building in one way or another.”

Architect Todd Kilburn, AIA, principal of Kilburn Architects LLC in Seattle, says the contribution of the resident team was unprecedented.

“We’ve never worked with a resident committee to this degree,” he says. “In addition to senior living communities, we do a lot of work with condominium boards. There’s often a resident committee. But this was more intense. We had monthly meetings for about six months, and their input really contributed to the final design of the building.”

In addition to the primary resident committee, Kilburn also received input from resident committees representing the computer lab, the clothing/accessories resale boutique and the in-house TV channel.

Archer and Kilburn both point to the second floor as an example of a creative solution improved by resident input. Due to the weight of the equipment, fitness centers are usually on the ground floor. Residents and the architect both wanted to offer exercisers a beautiful mountain view, so the architect mitigated weight/noise issues and put the fitness center on the second floor with an indoor/outdoor cafe and a wellness clinic. When the resident committee suggested that the increased traffic might make the planned restroom insufficient, the architect modified the plan accordingly.

At the dedication ceremony, residents Don Archer, John Kennedy, Jeanne Michealsen and Alice Tooker joined Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and Covenant Retirement Communities President Rick Fisk in cutting the ceremonial ribbon. Kennedy is the newly elected president of The Samarkand Residents’ Council. Michealsen contributed input on space usage.

Tooker is the retirement community’s highest seniority resident. She moved to The Samarkand on Oct. 21, 1988, and celebrated her 100th birthday on Sept. 12, 2013.

Other dignitaries on hand for the invitation-only event included Paul Aigner, representing project manager Covenant Solutions of Skokie, Ill.; Todd Kilburn and Lauren Rudeck, Kilburn Architects; Andy Trubucco, president, and Joe Beaudet, general superintendent, of contractor Trabucco and Associates of Santa Barbara; Jenette Kinsler of Jenette M. Kinsler Interior Design in Denver, Colo.; and Paula Bodnar Schmitt on Bodnar Design in Chicago.

Following the formal dedication ceremony, resident and staff hosts greeted guests who took self-guided tours of the $4 million building’s facilities, including the fitness center, indoor/outdoor cafe, wellness clinic, aerobics/multipurpose room, computer lab, office space for the community’s 40 resident-led committees, studio for the in-house TV channel, and space for the residents’ clothing/accessories resale boutique.

— Colette Claxton represents The Samarkand.




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