Schowalter Villa: A Revolution in Senior Care

Jan 8, 2019

It’s conversation that can be difficult to begin. It’s time to look for other housing and care options for your aging parents. With all the options, how do you know which is best? There are many factors to consider: location, services and amenities, cost, and, most importantly, care.

From an architect’s perspective, designing senior living residence s is more about the quality of life than it is about floor plans and details. Yes, those things matter. The architect has a duty to the owner, the residents, the code officials, and the community to design a building that addresses life and safety. It’s their calling, and so is designing to suit the values of those who call the senior living facility home.

Schowalter Villa in Hesston, Kansas set out to create a private home for everyone throughout their campus. Bycreating 24 new assisted living apartments and converting other spaces into private healthcare rooms, Bluestem Communities achieved a place where everything residents and their adult children want, came together in a new home called Mullet Place at Schowalter Villa.

Alloy facilitated focus groups with potential residents, donors, community, staff, and adult children of potential residents. The outcomes provided a working list of wants that translated into a space-needs list and eventually into a floor plan that brought everything together.

“It’s all about choice,” says James Krehbiel, CEO of Bluestem Communities. “Meeting people where they’re at. Changing from dining services to a restaurant/cafe format… It’s those kind of amenities that have are essential in creating homes at Bluestem Communities.”

When you enter Mullet Place, you are welcomed into a cozy two-story lobby bustling with activity. Hesston Bakery & Cafe, along with a gift shop and a coffee lounge area, feel more like a hometown Panera. WiFi and music also add to the atmosphere. Even students from nearby Hesston College can be

found studying in the cafe within the assisted living community!

Krehbiel discusses the importance of including the greater community. “We are always striving to be innovative and part of that is incorporating all generations into our living spaces.”

Krehbiel says, “The architecture makes it feel more like home and a place to gather.”

With an inter-generational focus, from preschool to college students to seniors, Mullet Place creates an environment that appeals more to a cross-cut of society than the typical senior living model.

Senior care is on the brink of a revolution. “The people from the Baby Boomer generation will approach the age where they require more services within the next fifteen to twenty years,” according to Krehbiel. Apartments designed to support independence, integrated support services, and community involvement is the new future of independent living. Mullet Place brings this pioneering model to Kansas, serving its people for many generations to come.

Are you considering innovative design for your senior living facility? Alloy Architecture would love to have a conversation with you. Let’s see what dreams can become a reality!

Burke Jones, AIA and David RIffel, AIA, lead Alloy’s senior living projects. You can reach them at and

Alloy Architecture creates opportunities to enhance the human experience. We focus on forging unique, purposeful and lasting environments by blending design elements into a final project stronger than its individual parts.