‘Interpretive Placemaking:’ The design evolution of Wellington West Retirement Community

A wide shot of the dining room at the Wellington West Community Centre with white tables and green chairs throughout the brightly lit room
The Wellington West Retirement Community features a number of dining options. Photo courtesy of the Wellington West Retirement Community.

This article is sponsored. 

Rewind to 2015, when Signature Retirement Living (SRL) was approached by a prominent local developer to examine the possibility of bringing a different kind of retirement community to historic Hintonburg. Fast forward six years later: the Wellington West Retirement Community (WWRC), located at the corner of Wellington St. W. and Parkdale Avenue, will soon get to reveal its brand new, thoughtfully curated design by welcoming its new residents and their families into a fresh new space to call home sweet home!

If there is one thing for certain, it’s that a great deal of thought went into every square inch, every nook and cranny, every rounded corner of the brand new senior residence. An extensive process perhaps, but only to ensure a warm, cozy and welcoming environment to everybody who walks through its front doors. 

According to Victoria Lucas, director of design for SRL, the architecture and decor of the new Wellington West landmark draws upon “Interpretative Placemaking” which evokes memory, and the sense of something familiar. This inspiration is the foundation (pun intended) behind SRL’s design philosophy.

“Since Signature Retirement Living’s primary focus is on vibrant senior living, we understood the responsibility we would be taking on to ensure our building architecture integrates itself seamlessly into the neighbourhood,” she explains. 

Lucas, by the way, is an architect and designer who has been working exclusively with SRL for over a decade now.  

“It goes without saying that Ottawa has a rich architectural-and-design history, especially in creating luxury seniors housing. We wanted to acknowledge and embrace this,” says Lucas.

“Since Wellington West is one of Ottawa’s oldest neighbourhoods, SRL wanted the building design to have a sense of permanence; an acknowledgement of the historical merits and fabric of the community with a contemporary interpretation,” she adds. 

On the exterior, the two-storey stone podium breaks up the building façade to acknowledge the scale of pedestrians at street level, which, according to Lucas, is of critical importance when addressing any “mainstreet setting” for comfort and security. 

“The richness of the red brick pays tribute to the numerous buildings within the neighbourhood that already have a similar, albeit more historic, brick cladding,” she says.


Collaborative design 

When the opportunity presented itself to build in Hintonburg, SRL immediately approached Hobin Architecture Inc., a well-established Ottawa based firm with a deep understanding of seniors care and its housing needs. 

“Having undertaken the revitalization to the adjacent Ottawa Grace Manor Long Term Care community, as well as a number of other projects along the Wellington Street corridor, we knew Hobin would be the perfect local partner to collaborate on the development of Wellington West Retirement Community, bringing a high calibre of design sensibility to the table while aligning with our goal of being one of the top luxury retirement home operators in Canada,” says Lucas.  

“We understand that when our residents come to live with us, it is one of the biggest decisions in their lives and our goal is that the community we create helps to make this transition a little sweeter,” Lucas adds. 


Amenities with style 

What makes WWRC so special is how the design team merged elements of the greater city into the overall design. The same influences that drove their development of the architecture on the exterior, translates to our interior design. To achieve this goal, WWRC brought Canadian interior designer John David Edison (JDE) and his team on board. JDE has undertaken work throughout the world and, with decades of experience, offers a vibrant richness, and layered approach to his overall sense of style.

“The use of colour and textures is so important to our design strategy, and this is one of the key skills JDE brings to the table,” Lucas says. “His design philosophy is to embrace colour by creating truly unique interiors. The use of mirrors brings additional light into the space, providing more depth and connection.”

Well-appointed retirement living suites are supported by a collection of amenity spaces — from a welcome lounge/library, to a theatre, saltwater indoor swimming pool, fitness room (including a pilates studio and salon for active seniors) to a formal dining room, bistro café and bar, as well as an activity room with a demonstration kitchen and dedicated horticulture area.

“In the early stages of design, we determined that the structural column in the Welcome Lounge was the perfect location for a modern spin on the Confederation Hall Rotunda central column,” Lucas says. “As our design evolved, we wanted to engage with this column, creating a meeting point for residents and their guests to enjoy.”

“We surrounded the base of the column with brilliant yellow banquette seating from which vertically emerged stained wood framing to emulate the fan vault of the Rotunda’s column,” Lucas adds. “It is now affectionately called ‘The Tree’ in conversation – and has taken on a life of its own.”


Featuring: Private dining modelled after Rideau Hall’s Tent Room 

“No one ever forgets the first time they enter the Tent Room at Rideau Hall,” says Lucas. “It feels like you are transported into another place, another time and yet is such an integral part of Ottawa’s history.”

“When we were developing the concept for the private dining room, between the formal dining space and the more spirited activity room, it was a natural expression to utilize some of the unique design features of the Tent Room to transition between these two polarly programmed spaces.”

There will never be another Private Dining Room quite like this with such intimacy and playfulness!


Featuring: Formal dining inspired by the Parliamentary Restaurant

Food is communal, and dining is a critical part of SLR’s offerings. The design of the formal dining room is an extension of the food itself. 

“When we started looking at the concepts of the formal dining space, we couldn’t help but think about the Parliamentary Restaurant,” according to Lucas. 

While its design is somewhat dated, and its finishes quite subdued, Lucas says there are some incredible architectural elements like the stone clad columns to the glass domed skylights. 

“One of the charms of the Parliamentary restaurant is the view of the Ottawa River. Being located in a more densely surrounded mainstreet setting, our design team decided to bring ‘views’ into the dining room interior and create an interpretative expression of Ottawa cityscapes. JDE took a rather simple expression in the Parliamentary Restaurant and made it into something completely new.”

“We look forward to sharing this beautiful building with our residents, staff and community in the months ahead!” says Lucas.

WWRC Executive Director Linda Meek and Marketing Manager Courtney Groenewoud have been very busy these past few months meeting people within the community through virtual tours, and learning more about the well-loved neighbourhood as they go. 


Contact Courtney for an in-person or virtual tour today:

Phone: 613-716-6885


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