The rooftop lounge at AVA NoMA
Degen & Degen The rooftop lounge at AVA NoMA

Everyone likes to travel in style, and hotel designers know how to make getaway spaces feel luxurious. Seattle-based architecture firm Degen & Degen specializes in hospitality design, including hotels, resorts, and other other facilities designed for public accommodation.

The company recently worked with AvalonBay Communities on the design of AVA NoMa, a 438-unit property in Washington, D.C., to bring the popular elements of hotel design to the project, especially in the community's 20,000 square feet of amenity space.

Erin Brodhead, principal of interior design, and Anita Degen, managing principal, spoke with MFE about how the hottest hospitality elements can be incorporated into multifamily living.

Lounge space at AVA NoMA
Degen & Degen Lounge space at AVA NoMA

What aspects of hospitality spaces are currently popular, and why?
Collectively, our generation is lifestyle-savvy and seeks to find not only a home but an experience that will reflect their personality and who they strive to be. When a guest walks into a hotel lobby, a carefully curated experience begins. This experience strives to evoke a sense of place, comfort, and, depending on the location, will project adventure, relaxation, escape, etcetera. With that being said, hotel communal spaces such as the lobby, fitness center, rooftop lounge, and work lounge are being incorporated into multifamily communities to not only provide added value to the resident but to encourage community and a sought-after elevated lifestyle.

Workspaces at AVA NoMa
Degen & Degen Workspaces at AVA NoMa

How can a designer incorporate these elements of hospitality into residential design at multifamily communities in both the units and common spaces?
Hotel guest rooms are small, temporary living quarters, [while the hotel's] public spaces deliver social interaction and unique experiences. Similarly, as apartment units get smaller, elevating the amenities is a way to economize overall square footage while still giving the resident more. For example, a smaller apartment is reasonable if the property provides a fully outfitted pet spa, workspace, or entertainment space with a chefs kitchen.

Rooftop lounge space at AVA NoMa
Degen & Degen Rooftop lounge space at AVA NoMa

What multifamily amenities are most popular among residents right now?
A large fitness center is key. Residents are seeking quality [fitness] spaces with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, such as Fitness On Demand and meeting space for virtual trainers. Having a rooftop lounge is also a very hot amenity with renters. It's used as a space for hosting parties, impressing friends, and boasting a view if their apartment unit is limited. We've also seen an increased desire for 24-hour concierge service and enhanced security measures.

Rooftop infinity pool at AVA NoMa
Degen & Degen Rooftop infinity pool at AVA NoMa

How do these amenity spaces reflect the kind of lifestyle today’s renters want in their apartment building?
It’s about lifestyle. For example, at a property positioned for students and first-time renters, active social spaces take precedence, whereas a property catering to professionals or starter families might focus more on open workspaces or outdoor living. Individual units are influenced by creative use of space, with elements such as barn doors or a kitchen island as opposed to a traditional dining room.

The rental market is highly competitive today. Given the right location and connectivity with the neighborhood community, developers then rely on market research to select the amenities that will target the ideal renter.

With prospective residents being more design-savvy today, it's more important than ever to provide a level of design that reflects their needs.