Don’t let the pitched roofs and shingled walls of NewBridge on the Charles fool you. Although the architecture of this 162-acre senior housing community draws from the Colonial buildings in its Dedham, Mass., setting, its concept clearly breaks with tradition. “The client wanted to create every component from scratch and reinvent an approach to health care,” says principal-in-charge Martin L. Siefering, AIA, of Perkins Eastman Architects, which designed the project in collaboration with Chan Krieger Sieniewicz and Stantec.

This new way of thinking includes sustainable design strategies that both improve residents’ quality of life and lower long-term operating costs for the developer, Hebrew SeniorLife. Thanks to careful site planning, acres of meadows and forest remain as untouched as they were before development. A system of geothermal wells heats and cools the buildings, and captured rainwater satisfies irrigation needs. Xeriscaping, rain gardens, bioswales, and vegetated roofs also play major roles in the project’s landscaping and stormwater management programs, and are intertwined with a network of community walking trails.

A school for grades K–8, designed by HMFH Architects, shares the NewBridge site. The client hopes it will promote intergenerational mingling, especially in community zones such as NewBridge’s café and public dining area. The overarching idea of the project is that seniors—just like the rest of us—desire options, not limitations.