Quick Report from Dining Project Steering Committee

Here is a quick first report from the Dining Project Steering Committee, convened by Marvell a couple of weeks ago, to assist in the design of the new second dining venue to be built up in the area currently occupied by the Ping Pong Room (and the unused kitchen behind it), the Blue Room, and some of the rooms beyond.  Your reporter is excited both about the ideas that came out, and the process itself, which felt very constructive, energizing and empowering.

Its important that the meeting started with Marvell asking us all to step back to brainstorm about the goals we had in the design of the second venue.  So, while we talked about concrete things, we did so in the context of what would really make a difference to our lives.  The plan is to give these goals to the designers, so that they are guided by what the community wants, rather than design for design’s sake.

Here are some of those themes and the more concrete ideas that came out of them.

Building Connection.  Perhaps most important of all (Marvell put it on the top of the reporting sheet) is the goal of creating a place that expands connection among residents, between independent living and Creighton Center residents, between residents and their families, between residents and non-residents, etc.  The space, and related issues like parking, can make a huge difference to all these.

Flexibility.  We need a highly flexible space that can be used for eating, meetings, presentations, and can expand (maybe by having the barrier to the corridor being movable).

24/7 Availability.  A place that people use all the time.  From night owl foods to light snacks to full meals at certain times.  Finding a way to use machines to get food out, without staff at some times (wine dispenser like hotels now have in lobby).

Technology. Multiple screens for engagement and communication, including video conferencing with other communities, worldwide.  Maximum flexibility in terms of conduits for future data sharing.  Ease of check in and getting information on medal credit status (or equivalent after changes).  Strong WiFi and charging stations.

A Sharing Space.  Ways that community members can share — photos from vacation, achievements, etc, routinely displayed in multi-media.

Avoiding Fragmentation of Community into “Old Dining Room Gang”and “Second Venue Gang.” Design the space, the food, and the use of the space to draw in everybody.

Integration with Strategic Plan.  Whether our plan ultimately focuses on an intern generational vision, an international vision, a broader local vision, a learning vision, a technology vision, an environmental vision, a research vision, or whatever (all totally up in the air right now) we have to have the flexibility so that this space can promote and serve the vision.

Maximum Food Variety.  Keeping our culinary life varied is central, particularly as we attract younger residents and guests.

Design of Waiting Area and Flow.  We need to learn from current bottlenecks and make the entry area a connecting place more than a waiting place.  Sit down, chat, engage, learn, plan.

Human Connection Role of Staff.  While technology can help manage all this, remember the wonderful role that staff play in getting residents talking to each other, engaged, and feeling useful and important.  Think about how to enhance, rather than replace this.  We want staff you see their jobs broadly rather than narrowly, like the wonderful Jodie and Anna do at the podium.

Building a Mock-Up.  Given how critical it is that everybody gets a chance to “experience” the redesigned space before construction starts, maybe we should build a mock-up out of cardboard in the Auditorium.

Other Items:  Opportunity to plan for composting of waste.  Sustainability and energy. Fourth Floor Kitchen?  Coats. Mobility devices.  Parking issues for outsiders.  Airflow.  Arts room redesign.  Fire Barrier redesign.  Patio roof flexibility for light.  Accessibility issues.

All the members of the Steering Committee would welcome everybody’s thoughts and ideas.  Our next meeting is March 8.  Here is the list of members:   Marvell Adams, Chris Ramsey, Sara Case, Jim Giese, Anne Stone, Maja Keech, Mike McCulley, Pat Howard, Helen Lauck, Bill Lively, Anne McCulley, Barbara Bailar, and Richard Zorza, and from Kendal, Steve Bailey and Ben Butler.

Remember, as we get older, many of us live in anticipation from meal to meal.   Others, of course, live in anticipation from Dining Committee meeting to Dining Committee meeting!

The way this meeting happened I regard as a very good omen for our community.  It showed a quality of input and creativity from all our stakeholders that suggests that we are entering a truly exciting time as we follow similar kinds of processes for the development and implementation of our Strategic Plan.



7 responses to “Quick Report from Dining Project Steering Committee

  1. An overriding concern of the Sustainability Group, expressed at the outset of the meeting summarized above, was that Collington spend the necessary money up front to purchase the most energy-efficient equipment for both the new dining venue and the main kitchen. Kitchens are major energy guzzlers. One-time capital costs for sustainable equipment such as combination ovens and “smart” variable speed hoods can make a significant difference in lowering operating costs for years to come. Kendal at Hannover has invested in sustainable kitchen equipment. It is important that Collington do likewise.

  2. It is good to hear that this first continuation of the dining expansion was thoughtful, inclusive of new ideas and technology, upbeat and convivial. We are grateful for the report.
    As part of this forward looking project, we need to be mindful that the fitness center, changing rooms, shower facilities, and pool entrance have also been slated for redesign, as noted in the Fiscal Review Committee minutes of March 2015, for example.
    As the spaces are conjoint, does it not behoove us to keep our vision and our planning apace with our fitness needs?
    Especially as we move into implementing Vitality 360, with its expansive concept of wellness in the various domains of life and increase in resident participation in fitness activities at other Kendals so far, let us remember to include renewed space and vision of fitness possibilities at Collington.
    Particularly with the increase in the number of residents, meeting this need becomes even more imperative.

  3. My sense is that this proposal will enhance the community life of Collington by meeting the need for a place for residents to meet over coffee – or whatever – as the spirit moves. The Ivy Room just is not that place – partly it is too small and too much an adjunct of the dining room. Collington was virtually the only senior community that I visited – – and I visited quite a few in the DC area – that did not have in effect a ‘coffee shop’ where people could drop in at any time for coffee, sandwiches, etc. This I regarded as a ‘deficit’ but clearly not one that outweighed all the other attractions of this exceptional community.

    I do take note, however, that because it is not on the same level as the dining room/main floor there may be some issues of accessibility – what with stairs and elevators to cope with. However, we seem to manage to get to classes, the clinic, the pool etc. so I imagine the location is not a total negative – and cannot think of one that might be feasible on the main level.

    So I come out much in favor of going ahead with this project. Appreciation to all who have spent time and thought on all of this!

    Jeanne Barnett

  4. Great stuff. When we get to the nits and grits suggest that putting curve at places where people and equipment traffic flow changes direction. Not only looks better ( softer ) but takes into account the need to prevent sudden changes in traffic flow found with right angled blind corners.( Long list of reasons ) Curves in some walls has aesthetic appeal by softening outlines. Also curves in the bench seating ( where possible) looks better , are easier to use ( getting in and out ) and the tables can be oval !! Much more user friendly. Looking forward to the next phases of planning and to opening day !! Peter Fielding

  5. I believe that it is important to be very explicit in describing how this process will follow the Kendal consensus model.