Award-Winning Amenities: The Secrets Behind the Space at Friendship Village

Tempe, AZ
May 08, 2024

When it comes to senior living community amenities, Friendship Village in Tempe, Arizona, is in a class of its own.

Known for their friendly demeanor and active lifestyles, the community is blazing a new trail to offer first-of-its-kind amenities that uniquely accommodate residents’ wants and needs.

The 42-acre campus is a robust and complex site providing multiple senior living options comprised of:

  • Six original independent living courtyard apartment buildings
  • Numerous cottages
  • Large town center
  • The Nunnenkamp Center (consisting of assisting living units)

Originally built in the 1970s and 1980s, this pioneering campus was due for revitalization. Trusting the strength of our design leadership, Friendship Village selected our A+E and construction teams to provide their expertise for this unique multi-phase repositioning project.

As part of the project’s original scope, our team created a plan to demo (then rebuild) each of the six existing courtyard apartments in phases. To date, our A+E and construction teams have completed Phase I (demoing and rebuilding building 1) and Phase II (demoing and rebuilding building 2) with schematic designs for Phase III. 

It’s one thing to design and construct unique amenities. It’s another to do so in a landlocked activity site.

Because of this landlocked location, there are fewer access points to establish seamless construction and equipment logistics. There’s also less space to add square footage for the incorporation of new amenities.

With the inability to expand horizontally, the project team and client decided there was only one way to go: Up. 

Thanks to our industry knowledge and dedication (plus multiple teams under the same Ryan umbrella), we’ve made it work. With Phases I and II complete and Phase III underway, the trailblazing senior living community will offer an array of unique amenities to promote an active lifestyle and connection for residents, including: 

  • A rooftop microbrewery where residents can brew their own beer 
  • Rooftop pickleball courts collectively deemed “Courtside Lounge”
  • Starfire, a rooftop full-service restaurant
  • A high-class spa 
  • Fully-staffed fitness center with a swimming pool and hot tub 
  • Woodworking shop 
  • Three libraries 
  • Relaxing common area spaces 
  • Dining venues 
  • Training classes 
  • Outdoor dog park 
  • Del Fuego Sports Bar* 
  • Duckpin bowling* 
  • Healthcare clinic*
  • High-class spa*
  • And more 

*= indicates the amenity is planned for Phase III

Let’s go behind the scenes to see how our team of experts incorporated unique strategies to help bring this award-winning senior living community to life. 

Amenity: Multiple buildings with different amenities

Challenge: Provide easy access to different buildings

Solution: Breezeways 

As the 42-acre campus includes multiple buildings, we are connecting the phases by using breezeways and corridor openings—a design choice not commonly found in campuses of this size.

These building-to-building connections provide convenience for residents to access other areas of the campus and the rooftop amenities with ease. For example, residents can now access a rooftop connected walkway from Starfire Restaurant and Brewery to the first phase building Courtside Lounge pickleball courts, which features multiple regulation sized rooftop pickleball courts, offering more opportunities for residents to stay active, connect with others and have fun. 

The breezeways also help establish “infinite circulation,” a client priority to help residents continuously move between buildings and other parts of the built environment. The building type is a Type 1B, which means it is made of all non-combustible materials and allows for full integration and circulation between the buildings. As long as we continue to utilize a type 1B building and meet all fire protection and maximum allowed area of opening requirements, we can continue adding square footage indefinitely.

Amenity: Rooftop pickleball courts 

Challenge: Eliminate noise & vibrations for surrounding residents

Solution: High-density foam 

This is the first time a pickleball court has been installed on the roof for a senior living community. While this amenity offers fun and activity, it also createds a challenge for our construction and design teams. 

How did we ensure the sounds of pickleball play did not interrupt the resident units right below the court on level four?

To navigate the noise and vibrations hurdle, we enlisted the expertise of an acoustics team to eliminate noise and vibration interruptions to residents. The pickleball court itself is built on top of approximately 18 inches to 38 inches of high-density foam to help absorb any sound transfer. The ceilings of these units are braced off the interior walls to minimize connections to the deck (which limited the sound and vibration transfer) then packed with insulation.

As our team continues to design Phase III, we are once again bringing on board the acoustic team to invoke similar strategies for the design and installation of duck pin bowling: another fun amenity located adjacent to and on top of resident units. 

Amenity: Upcoming high-end spa; award-winning dining 

Challenge: Provide a luxurious and functional spa and dining with limited square footage 

Solution: High-end furnishings 

Phase III of the revitalization also features a high-end spa for residents. The client’s goal (and our team’s plan) is to create a luxurious feel for this space, evoking relaxation, peace and opulence. 

The problem? The space is limited in size. The square footage allocated for the spa is only 1,200 square feet, which presents a challenge to provide a luxurious and functional high end spa including hair chairs, nail salon and massage room.

Our design team’s solution: High-end finishes and detailed site planning with Friendship Village and their stylists. As designers, our team is continuously prioritizing aligning with the desired theme while staying within high-end aesthetics and budget.  

Our designers also partnered with Spellman-Brady—the project’s interior design firm— to incorporate high-end furnishings when designing for the rooftop restaurant and brewery called Starfire. Now completed, this has become one of the highlights of Friendship Village. 

Taking a cue from upscale restaurants, craft breweries, and rooftop venues, the Starfire restaurant features stunning views, an open, contemporary design, and redefines the senior living dining experience. Because of the elevated design experience, Friendship Village took first place in Dining Innovation for the Senior Housing News 2023 Architecture and Design Awards.  

While the campus of Friendship Village lacked horizontal space, it has not lacked in effective communication and team work to overcome challenges. By collaborating together under the Ryan umbrella and bringing in the right teams of experts, Friendship Village brings activity and accessibility to residents, offering award-winning and one-of-a-kind experiences to increase quality of life and raise the bar of what is possible in landlocked spaces and senior living communities. 

Media Contact
Ryan Companies PR Dept.