I’ve lived in a handful of apartments since I graduated college in 2017, and if you’ve read my previous articles, you know that I have my opinions on places that I’ve lived. This final installment  in my three-part series is covering the not-so-pretty things about apartment design. Although they don’t necessarily enhance the rental community aesthetic, that doesn’t mean they’re not still super important to the rental experience. 



My apartment building is a podium design with additional surface parking around the outer edges of the building as well as guest parking in the center. When you first pull into the apartment, you can go left, straight or right. This is VERY confusing to visitors (even when I first moved in, I got confused). To get to the garage, you need to turn right (see the arrow on the left of this image). It turns into a one way after you pass the surface parking, and this is where the problems start. To get into the garage, you must pass the exit door and pull in, so if  a car is exiting the garage, there’s a chance of collision. 

The next problem is that the building has no parking for garbage trucks, delivery trucks and moving trucks, so often times they end up sitting wherever they can find room (most often right at the orange star on this image). This blocks the only way resudebts can get out of the garage and building itself. Trust me, I know from experience. I’ve sat in my car waiting behind a garbage truck for nearly 15 minutes before, making me late. Okay, that’s enough complaining. So what’s the solution? 

I’ve considered a few fixes depending on space, like adding two lane traffic, creating a designated spot for delivery trucks, and reversing the entrance/exit flow of the garage so there’s no chance of crossover when someone is coming in and someone is coming out. Also, parking is sometimes limited, so our building has been squeezing in extra spots in our garage anywhere they can. From what I can tell, the number of spaces per unit was not properly planned, and now they’re facing the consequences. Aim for a minimum of 2 spots per unit, even one bedrooms, and plan on a two car per unit rule for residents. 



My least favorite part of my apartment design is our trash chute situation. The building has one on each floor, located on the opposite side of the U-shaped building from my unit, which is quite a haul. Technically, it’s located near the main entrance, but the majority of units stretch down either side of the U shape, making it a trek for most residents. Once you actually get there, the chute is more often than not piled up multiple floors, so you can’t fit any more in. This forces you to either leave it in the trash room (which is disrespectful and unsanitary) or walk down to the basement to place it near the full trash bin. In addition, the chute size seems small. It doesn’t even fit a normal sized pizza box, which allows people to justify leaving cardboard boxes and other trash just sitting in the room expecting someone else to handle it (pictured right). The room gets sticky, smelly, and leaks into the hallway. There’s a recycling chute and trash chute, so I try to do my best at reusing and recycling, but I’ve heard that many apartments don’t actually recycle(both chutes lead to the same trash bin).

There’s a solution to improve the situation. In the schematic stages, look at where the trash chute is located, where it leads, and how accessible it is to everyone. Ensure the residents are aware of your recycling program and encourage it with educational posters of what can and can’t be recycled; and, to be blunt, make note of who is leaving trash for others to pick up and fine them. Finally, make sure your chutes fit typical items residents would be throwing away, like a pizza box!

That’s a Wrap!

This series has really just scratched the surface of apartment design from my perspective, including ways to appeal to today’s renters (who may not have a choice but to rent). My biggest takeaways for developers are:

1. Include more direct access units
2. Splurge on big windows to bring in natural light
3. Carefully plan, design and manage the package delivery system

A community that does all three, and doesn’t include needless amenities that I’d rather not pay for, will be at the top of the list as I consider my next apartment. 

Read Part One Here

Read Part Two Here

Did you enjoy the series? Email me to start the conversation!
This article was originally posted on LinkedIn. View that version here.