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Mather Director of Culinary Operations Thad Parton with a food-running robot that the senior living facility operator is testing in Arizona (courtesy Mather)

When The Mather Tysons opens in 2024, the senior living facility might employ some workers of the artificial intelligence variety.

Rest assured, these robots won’t be capable of planning a HAL 9000-style takeover. Instead, they will perform simple, repetitive tasks, such as delivering food to tables and apartments and cleaning hallways.

“Our hope is that it helps us retain team members, that they’ll recognize that we’ve gone kind of the extra step to provide them a level of assistance they may not get elsewhere in similar roles,” Mather Director of Culinary Operations Thad Parton told FFXnow.

Inspired by its founder’s work as an inventor, Mather’s plans to introduce robots to its senior living residences precede the pandemic.

According to Parton, Mather CEO and President Mary Leary asked him to explore robotics a couple of years ago as a potential way to boost service levels. After some research and conversations with vendors, he had identified a unit that would deliver food to residents’ apartments autonomously when COVID-19 arrived.

Once the worst of the pandemic’s initial surge dissipated, the nonprofit launched a pilot of the delivery robot at its life plan community in Evanston, Illinois, but as more people started eating in the dining room instead of taking food out, Parton realized his team’s needs had changed.

“The delivery robot was not as important to us as providing additional support to our dining services team, so we pivoted to testing a food-running robot,” he said, noting that the machines have become increasingly popular throughout the food service industry as restaurants adjust to an exodus of workers.

Earlier this spring, Mather deployed a food-running bot from Bear Robotics at its Splendido community in Tucson, Arizona, for a four-week pilot.

Capable of carrying 66 pounds with three trays and a built-in bussing pan, the robot transports plates of food from the facility’s kitchen to the dining room and then brings the empty dishes back to the kitchen.

“Human servers unload and serve the meals delivered by the robot, and load it up for return to kitchen,” Mather said. “This saves time for servers, who can now spend more time in the restaurant with residents.”

Mather explained exactly how the robot works: Read More

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(Updated at 6 p.m.) Construction work has moved above ground on a pair of buildings that will bring 300 new apartments for older residents to Tysons.

Vertical construction began earlier this month on The Mather at 7929 Westpark Drive, the senior living provider Mather announced in a news release yesterday (Tuesday).

The milestone comes almost two years after work on the 4-acre site began with the demolition of an existing office building in May 2020.

“We are very excited to bring The Mather to Tysons,” Mather CEO and President Mary Leary said. “‘Going vertical’ is symbolic of the successful effort the team has put forward to obtain financing, exceed sales projections, and break ground — especially at such an unprecedented time these last two years.”

Approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2019, The Mather will consist of two residential buildings — a 27-story high-rise with 179 apartments and an 18-story building with 114 apartments.

Open to people 62 and older, the units will range in size from 850 to 3,300 square feet, with entrance fee prices starting at $646,700. Residents will have access to assisted living, memory care, and health care services, among other amenities.

The apartment towers will top a five-story “podium” with retail and other public uses on the ground floor, parking, residential amenities on the third level, memory support and skilled nursing on the fourth level, and assisted living on the fifth level, according to the county-approved plan.

According to the press release, Mather has also partnered with Fairfax County to provide “wellness and lifelong learning programs” in a dedicated space on the podium’s first floor, which will have an over 14,000-square-foot commercial space. The programming will be open to people 50 and older in the general community.

After two rounds of pre-sales, The Mather has already sold 80% of its units, exceeding projections, a company spokesperson said.

Located in walking distance of Tysons Galleria, The Mather is part of the 19.4-acre Arbor Row planned along Westpark Drive. The development also has the finished Nouvelle apartment building and The Monarch condominiums, which are under construction.

The $500 million Life Plan Community anticipates move-ins starting in early 2024, with construction on the 27-story tower expected to finish next year.

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