The Fleur Heights Care Center renovation in Des Moines, Iowa, is the first major remodel of a 10,000-square-foot portion of a nursing home originally built in the 1980s. The space was converted from an assisted living unit to a skilled nursing care unit. Though by code, the space is designed as a nursing home, the idea behind the renovation was to appeal to people of a range of ages in need of an extended rehabilitation experience.

Designed by ASK Studio and completed in December 2013, the project focuses on patient privacy and comfort while challenging the definition of a traditional nursing home. Each of the 14 rooms includes a private bathroom with shower. Medicine is stored and administered to patients in the room, eliminating the need for a large medical storage room and medical carts. Rooms are equipped with smart TVs and Wi-Fi.

Because of its focus as a surgical recovery unit, the scope of the project offered more design freedom than is typically found in nursing home projects. The common spaces are designed to feel more like visiting a hotel than a nursing home. The nurses’ station is reduced to two desks with hanging pendant lights for warmth. Bright colors pair with curving architectural elements to energize the space. Natural light infiltrates throughout as a result of keeping perimeter commons areas open to the corridor. Energy-efficient LED lighting is used in the project for a clean, bright light.

Common spaces include a visitors’ lounge at the entry, a theater room, and a dining room with kitchenette. The unit also offers an in-house physical therapy room and central bathroom. Ancillary spaces for the staff include an administrator’s office, clean utility room, soiled utility room, public restroom, janitor room, and several storage rooms.