At day one of the Multifamily Executive Conference, some of the nation’s most creative architects took time to tell us what’s on their drawing boards.
Moderated by Manny Gonzalez, senior partner at KTGY, panelists in this fast-moving discussion shared insights on nine topics, revealing the most relevant trends in affordable and market-rate housing right now. Here are highlights from panelists Daniel Gehman, principal, Harley Ellis Devereaux; Mark Humphreys, CEO, Humphreys and Partners, Michael Ytterberg, BLT Architects Scott Ziegler of Ziegler Cooper.
“Skimpy on price, not on style,” is how Daniel Gehman described the units he’s working on in Playa Vista, a Los Angeles beach town: Two-bedroom/two-bath units that measure just 775 sq. feet. When designing affordable with those kinds of limits, “you have to design backwards,” says Gehman.
In Houston, Scott Ziegler is at work on high-density, mixed-use units that are on infill sites, targeted to empty-nesters that are scaling down and cashing in. Ziegler is also designing units for young professionals that cost under $1000 a month.How does that pencil out? “They rarely eat in or entertain,” says Ziegler, adding that the apartment is mostly a crash pad.
In Philadelphia, Michael Ytterberg notes that apartments are decreasing in size. (a one-bedroom that was previously 750 square feet is now more like 690). He describes this niche as a “sweet spot for Millennials.” In addition, “the tried and true one-room studio still works,” says Ytterberg, especially when there’s a long window-wall.
Mark Humphreys, who has designed a building with “a leasing space that looks like an Apple store,” says that the space also boasts a beer tap. Why? Because the community hosts a happy hour every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Moderator Manny Gonzalez pointed out that right now in America, 10,000 people a day turn 65. They want to be where the fun is--next to buzzing cafes, sports venues, restaurants, and theaters. It’s a request that’s not unique to that cohort.
Universities are amping-up outdoor and common spaces, and they’re competing for who can have the best one, says Daniel Gehman. To wit: a climbing wall at the University of Southern California’s campus. The panel agreed that today’s college graduates leave school with big expectations—noting that if they didn’t graduate with so much debt, owning a home might be more within reach.
Everybody on the panel noted that they have condo projects going. Are there too many? Right now, no—at least not on the super-high end of the market, says Michael Ytterberg.
Moderator Manny Gonzalez is working on a project that’s amentizing social media in the form of a studio for taping YouTube videos and a Pinterest group that serves as a virtual town square, so you can keep tabs on what your neighbors are talking about.
Fitness centers remain important, and increasingly, they’re run by fitness companies themselves, who are uniquely qualified to offer the clubby, lavish facilities that residents crave.
Higher density is pushing more developers to make use of the roof. In addition to a stunning hangout, providing attractive roof space complete with a fire pit, yoga lounge, and a bocce court means that you can get more units in the lower floors.
A return to the city is taking place, and walkability is in demand all over—including in such unlikely places as Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston. The consensus: On many parts of the generation spectrum, there’s a desire to simplify life and spend less time in the car. The idea of the urban utopia as the Holy Grail is being revived. .
Amy Albert is editor of Custom Home and a senior editor at Builder. Follow her on Twitter @amyatbuilder.