Evergreen House at PCSC | Montessori for Aging and Dementia | Our Designers Make Us Look Good
Updated: Jan 12, 2022
Recently, we completed custom art wayfinding for the NEW Evergreen House at the Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina. To preface our interview with the Interior Designer, Sydney Kerschen, an article published in the Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina "Community Connections" Summer 2021 Issue elaborates on the importance of the newest edition at the Village of Summerville and the deeper meaning behind the philosophy for the type of memory care offered.
Memory Care: Montessori for Aging and Dementia
"From Evergreen House's inception, Jennifer Brush, MA,CCC/SLP, worked in conjunction with Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina and McMillan Pazdan Smith Architects to design the memory support neighborhood, the first intentionally designed building of its kind in the United States. Jennifer is the only trainer in the U.S. certified by the Association of Montessori Internationale (AMI) for Montessori for Aging and Dementia and one of two trainers in the world with this exclusive expertise. The building is already being presented as the gold standard for memory support design at national and international events."
Meaning Behind the Name: Evergreen House
"While the most familiar usage of the word evergreen refers to trees and shrubs that have green leaves throughout the entire year, the word also has another meaning -- one that is particularly applicable to the groundbreaking concept of Montessori for Aging and Dementia. Evergreen is something that doesn't change with the seasons, something that is timeless and does not become obsolete. That is the intention of Montessori-based memory support, which helps residents feel useful, valuable and relevant by rekindling past roles and tasks so they can make meaningful contributions to their present life and community."
-- PCSC Community Connections Summer 2021 Issue
How important was the art on this project? Did you Start with the Art?
The art on this project was super important! We knew we had to include pieces that not only looked beautiful, but also served a purpose. Everything in this community was approved by a Montessori for Dementia and Aging expert – Jennifer Brush.
Penny and Pam McPeak from Penny & Lucy Lou Art were able to take custom shots for us and they really
understood the directives of the Montessori vision and made it a reality in the artwork. Penny's team made the artwork portion of the project run so smoothly, and I knew I didn’t have to worry about anything art related! With their help we were able to select art pieces that not only fit with our aesthetic, but were also easy for residents to recognize, engage with, and use as wayfinding tools to promote independence.
What was your / your client's vision and / or goal in designing this space?
The vision from the beginning was to create a built environment that fostered the Montessori for Dementia and Aging principles. All of those principles work together to essentially make lives of residents less stressful and more fulfilling. Our goal when designing was to take what we knew and implement a layout, finishes, furniture, and artwork that would all be cohesive and look beautiful (as we always try to do) but would also support the day to day operations of the staff, and make everything feel like home for residents.
How does your client and their residents feel about the space?
Everyone is RAVING about the space, but particularly the artwork! It's amazing how many families have resonated with the images and they all love that the artwork serves a purpose, and isn’t just there for decoration. I think it just reinforces the idea that every piece of the community was well thought out with the purpose of bettering the lives of residents. And how can you not respond well to a mission like that?!
Montessori Consultant: Jennifer Brush, MA,CCC/SLP
Architecture Firm: McMillan Pazdan Smith
Interior Designer: Sydney Kerschen, NCIDQ, IIDA
Art printed on the white poly-vinyl had rounded edges to protect residents and a matte clear ink atop the printed art to help with cleanability.
Each piece was enhanced with color to ensure residents could see the art more clearly as their vision may have declined over the years.