The Rogue Valley Manor's distinctive turquoise high-rise on the top of Barneburg Hill will soon get a more down-to-earth color scheme that will dramatically alter the look of the landmark building.
"It's iconic the way it is, but those blue panels need an update," said Jane Hall, who lives in a nearby cottage.
The Rogue Valley Manor was created after the Rev. Ross Knotts searched for a senior facility in the area that would serve his retired father.
The Methodist minister's inability to find a suitable facility prompted him to search for a location in the 1950s in Medford.
Knotts, along with other local religious leaders and the Rev. Meredith Grove, gained momentum for the idea, which culminated in the 1961 opening of the distinctive turquoise building on the hill.
Paul Harvey, a famous radio commentator, was on hand, broadcasting his show from the local KMED station about the "Barneburg Hilton."
Barneburg Hill was named after an early pioneer family that had a house on the location where the Manor now stands.
The Manor now is run by the nonprofit Pacific Retirement Services, which owns or manages retirement centers throughout the country, including the Ross Knotts Retirement Center on Creekside Circle in Medford.
The Manor is gearing up for an $8 million remodel of its original building that will include new high-efficiency glass and a more modern look.
Hall and other residents have weighed in on color samples that have been applied to the building that range from chocolate brown to tan — more in the style of the Manor Terrace building to the south.
Picking the right color was a difficult assignment because the colors changed depending on the time of day, Manor officials said. Also, the color scheme becomes permanent because the hue is applied to the back side of the glass.
Adroit Construction Co. of Ashland will undertake the remodel, which will require temporarily moving residents one floor at a time as work progresses during the 18-month project.
The work will start on the east side of the building on the 10th floor. Adroit will install scaffolding that will allow crews to work mostly from the exterior, though some interior work will be undertaken as well.
The project should start this summer, and about 30 workers will be on the job.
Residents have already gotten the word that they will need to move to other rooms inside the building for a two-week period.
Adroit will take precautions to minimize dust and disruption in the apartments.
"We like the fact they are considering all of us," Hall said. "It's an incredible place to live."
Like most residents, she thinks the existing color looks dated, particularly compared to the newer Manor Terrace to the south, which is a five-story, 120,000-square-foot building. In 2010, the Manor completed a $65 million construction project that included the Terrace. The original Manor building is 395,000 square feet.
Some Manor residents complained the existing single-pane glass in the original building allowed the rooms to get too warm on the west side and also thought they don't allow enough fresh air into the room.
The new glass panels will be double glazed and tinted, and the new heating and air conditioning should cut utility bills by up to 30 percent.
"This project is about the residents' comfort, increased energy efficiency and a more contemporary and integrated look to our hilltop campus," said Sarah Prewitt-Smith, executive director of the Manor.
Long-lasting turquoise panels have covered the outside of the 10-story, 200-apartment building, giving its distinctive hue and making it an instant landmark in Jackson County when it was built in 1961. The color has been described as everything from aquamarine to blue to teal.
The color was unique, but sometimes became the butt of jokes.
Once the color changes, "people won't drive by and think it's a VA hospital," said Lou Yardumian, who lives in a nearby cottage.
Prewitt-Smith said the idea of remodeling the outside started when the Manor looked into replacement of its original heating and air conditioning system.
To replace the system and duct, the contractor would need to remove the glass panels for access.
That triggered an exploration of changing the outdated look of the building.
The original glass is laid out in a kind of checkerboard fashion. The new glass will have one large rectangular pane in the middle flanked by two smaller operable windows.
Bob Mayers, Adroit Construction, said his company has worked with the Manor previously on other projects, including a room-by-room remodel of the infirmary.
"Anytime you displace a resident of that age, it is a concern," he said. "Communication is huge."
Also, the Manor will have a person dedicated to addressing residents' concerns during the construction.
Mayers said there is a concrete band that extends out from each floor of the building that allows installation of scaffolding to minimize entry into the rooms.
Manor resident Tillie Macready is ready for the big change.
"I like the earth colors," she said. "Anything will be an improvement over the turquoise color."
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.