Skip to main content

Adaptive reuse, or the repurposing of an existing structure for a new use, is a common practice in architecture. It can take an old, sometimes historical, building and convert it into something new and useful to the surrounding community. ACI Boland has worked on many reuse projects over the years, including the current Council on Aging building in Leavenworth, Kansas. This building has transformed from a local community hospital to a network hospital to a community use space.

The following will introduce the history of the Council on Aging’s historic building and discuss the transitions and transformations that occurred over the years.


In 1894, Cushing Memorial Hospital was founded by Harriet Cushing, renowned philanthropist, suffragist and Kansas healthcare champion. Located on Marshall Street just minutes from historic downtown Leavenworth, Harriet’s goal was to provide top-quality care to residents of Leavenworth, Lansing, Basehor and surrounding areas.

Cushing Memorial Hospital was owned by the city of Leavenworth until 2006 when Saint Luke’s Health System was granted full ownership by the local board. This transfer of ownership changed a lot of things for the hospital and ACI Boland, having previously worked with Saint Luke’s Health System, began to help transform the hospital with updates.  These renovations included an emergency department, surgical services, first floor lobby and finishes update, surgical care, ICU remodel, radiology equipment updates with greater space needs, and phased patient room remodels.


Each project required careful attention to upgrading modern healthcare throughout a building with major additions in 1930, 1958, 1963, 1978, and 1997. The Hospital challenges included low floor to floor ceiling heights, multiple interior columns with short spans, and working with and upgrading an outdated central plant and new fires sprinklers as the building was renovated.

Saint Luke’s Cushing Hospital office remodel progress photos.


In 2020, COVID-19 made a huge financial impact on many health systems, including Saint Luke’s. On October 1, 2020, Saint Luke’s made the decision to close Cushing Hospital and donate it back to the city of Leavenworth. The intention was to use the space for county organizations, expanding services for aging and youth populations, and health services.

Today, the facility serves the community’s senior population as the Leavenworth Council on Aging.  They provide a variety of services and programs for older adults in Leavenworth County to promote safety, emotional well-being, nutritional health, and preserve their accessibility to community services. The 19,054 square foot facility is equipped to provide exercise classes, health education, meal services, technology classes, and craft classes.


The Director of the Council on Aging wanted to provide a more modern and clean space. They wanted to replace the darker and dated spaces with something more streamlined and updated. The Council was also in the process of reworking their logo and hoped complement the new finishes.

The designers wanted to get away from the feeling that this was former medical building and took inspiration from facilities such as the YMCA for body movement, community colleges for computer labs and craft spaces, and culinary schools for the teaching kitchens. By providing purpose to the spaces coupled with new fresh and bright finishes, the design team created spaces for gathering and interaction.

ACI Boland used a combination of both corporate and residential finishes to provide a professional yet comfortable space for visitors and staff. Light interior finishes were used to brighten the space and wood accents throughout helped to bring warmth to the building. A couple of accent walls were added throughout to add interest.


When starting an adaptive reuse project, designers don’t have the advantage of starting with a blank piece of paper. Instead, there are a specific set of parameters in the existing building you must conform to while also reacting to the program requirements of the new space. While challenging, in the end, it can be very satisfying and rewarding to bring it all together in a way that the client is happy with.

Specifically with this building, there had been many renovations and additions over the years. It was impossible to know what the existing architecture and systems would be like until demo was completed. This meant the design team came across new challenges and conditions throughout the project. The key was reacting to these challenges quickly to keep the project moving.

Over the past 129 years, this building has seen many additions and improvements while serving the surrounding community. ACI Boland was able to help through key projects from an updated hospital to the new Council on Aging facility. This building has stood the test of time and looks to serve the community for many years to come.

Leave a Reply