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Woodcrest Villa VIVA Centre


Amenities for the Win

Anyone who has toured American colleges, either for their own education or for a child’s, knows they compete on amenities. This gym has a climbing wall, that cafeteria has a cereal wall. The auditorium acoustics rival the Metropolitan Opera’s.

But anymore it’s not only colleges trying to meet every human need and aspiration– for fitness, togetherness, entertainment, education, artistic expression– it’s senior communities, too.

Just like legacy institutions (Harvard, Yale, Penn State), communities that have been around a while must continually reinvent themselves to meet the expectations of oncoming generations. Woodcrest Villa in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, opened by Mennonite Home Communities in 1993, is a case in point. Among recent additions there, none is more significant than the VIVA Centre, a 52,000 square foot expansion of an existing community center to create a multi-use indoor-outdoor recreational facility incorporating everything from bocce ball to a movie theatre to a lap pool.

The Ultimate Collaboration

Well-run senior communities consult residents and families about how best to serve their needs. Woodcrest takes this to the next level, so that development of the VIVA Centre entailed a 10-year process of consultation, research and planning, not only involving residents but potential residents, neighbors, staff members and design experts, to make sure they got it right.

A particular engineering challenge was the building’s location, smack dab in the middle of the 110-acre campus. Thus, VIVA had to look good from all sides and hum along without disturbing the neighbors. Working with RLPS Architects, Reese Hackman configured and upgraded the electrical, mechanical and technology infrastructure to make that possible.

Living Their Best Lives at the VIVA Centre

VIVA, of course, means “live,” and Mennonite Home Communities President and CEO John Sauder likes to say, “It’s not the building itself but the life in the buildings that matters.” The VIVA Centre today is full of life with some 150 residents taking advantage of it regularly; the outdoor amenities are used year-round. This is not only because the space is inviting and attractive, but because the thoughtful design aligns perfectly with the healthy, creative and joyful opportunities and programs residents want.

More than one parent, dropping a child at college, has said to themselves, “I wish I was the one enrolling!” Something similar happened when the VIVA Centre opened. A young staff member seeing it for the first time announced, “I could totally live here.”