When three different architects gaze into their crystal balls to reveal their thoughts on what the apartment of the future will look like, the answer is surprisingly universal. Whether it’s a market-rate, affordable, or transit-oriented development, you can expect smaller units, bright, edgy common spaces, and plenty of green and high-tech features.

Multifamily Executive conference panelists Manny Gonzalez, principal of KTGY Group; Rohit Anand, managing partner, residential of Cubellis; and Mark Humphreys, CEO of Humphreys & Partners Architects, shared designs they created exclusively for Multifamily Executive, including site maps, renderings of property interiors and exteriors, and cost-per-unit breakdowns of a market-rate, affordable, and transit-oriented development built 12 to 18 months from now, plus a few innovative ideas for what to expect in the next decade. 

The biggest trend to expect in the short-term outlook: Vastly smaller units than today and large, hip common area spaces—a design which appeal to Gen Yers who spend little time in their units as they prefer to hang out with big groups of friends.

“What we designed two years ago cannot be financed in today's economic climate," Humphreys said. "In 1990 and 1991, we saw a paradigm shift and unit size dropped dramatically. We will now see this again.” With Humphrey’s newly introduced four-story over parking e-Max product, developers can build 176 units on a 2.5 acres site with units ranging from 340 square feet to 1,080 square feet for as low as $9 a square and achieve an 86.6 percent efficiency.

Inside the units, be prepared to offer plenty of customizable options, such as movable kitchen islands and colored walls. “Gen Yers love to customize,” Gonzalez said. “They want something they can call their own.” As far as amenities, think hip, think edgy, think bold. And don’t sweat it if there’s limited room for parking. After all, an increasing number of renters will drive solar-powered calls and will need an outdoor parking spot—and charging stations.