Mohegan Retirement Community
The Mohegan Tribe Retirement Community is a 66,000 square foot craftsman style home built to provide independent and assisted care for Mohegan elders as they age in place.
The exterior and interior design was to reflect the rich culture of the Mohegan Tribe. Interior details, finishes and furnishing were to provide a warm and comforting environment and incorporate important elements of history without a museum feel. Architect Kathy Lacombe and I collaborated to ensure a seamlessly transition from exterior to interior.
After hours of consultation with the historical Mohegan Tribe Elders reviewing cultural traditions and symbols associated with their history, the idea of custom hand forged exterior gates and balcony rails was conceived. Motifs familiar to the tribe would be incorporated. Subtle exterior details, such as the artist custom forged entry gates depicting the wolf, an important symbol to the tribe, forged twig balcony rails and a carved stone turtle motif embedded in the stone chimney symbolizing elders wisdom, set the tone for what’s to come as you enter. This concept would continue into the building. Natural and sustainable materials were used throughout.
As you enter, the centerpiece is the 11-foot tall winding oak staircase symbolizing falling water with custom forged iron handrails intertwined with symbols telling their history. Indigenous plants such as corn, squash, and sea life and wildlife all important elements in the culture invite the elders to share their rich history in stories with their grandchildren, family and friends. The entrance lobby makes reference to the importance of water and sea life with a tranquil water feature. Scenic etched glass windows invites you into the gathering room with a stone fireplace, private kitchen and leads to a 3 season porch with a carved roof resembling a wigwam.
The facility offers many amenities such as large private apartments with balconies. Multiple lounge areas encourage socializing within the community. Corridors with alcoves for informal sitting and conversation support a neighborhood concept. Every interior detail incorporates subtle symbolic references to their culture. Wool carpets are custom designed utilizing familiar motifs, such as their basket weave design with traditional colors of gold and moss green for the earth on the first floor. The gathering room carpet features the vibrant designs and colors of their textiles, beading and jewelry. Custom carpets in other lounges feature motifs symbolizing the sky, water, the oak leaf and berries. Embossed tonal wall coverings reference nature with motifs of leaves and leather. All the furniture is upholstered with familiar textile designs and leather. Floor plans are flexible to allow for program changes. Lighting, accessories and Native American artwork were carefully selected and placed throughout the community.
The attention to every detail provides an interesting and beautiful way to honor the Mohegan Elder’s rich history and stimulates story telling as one strolls through the corridors and lounges. Stories that their children and grandchildren will continue to pass down through the generations.
CCI’s involvement in the design concept, construction and implementation phases ensured a cohesive and seamless transition from exterior architecture to interior living.