Six Ways Multifamily Housing Has Changed – And Stayed the Same
Look at today’s multifamily housing and you’ll find a bit of nostalgia as well as a firm footing in the future of the residential market.
Can both of these statements be true?
Everything you know about multifamily housing is the same.
Everything you know about multifamily housing has changed.
In the 21st century, developers and architects are finding that yes: History guides new developments, but it certainly isn’t stuck in place. And today’s families—with children, without, starting out, nearing retirement—have a different set of needs that multifamily housing must respond to uniquely.
These six BSB projects each illustrate a multifamily housing trend to watch:
Trend #1: We want more than just four walls and a door.
Multifamily housing of the past might have included a bit of green space in land-use planning—but that’s not quite enough for residents today. Now there are rec facilities—exercise machines, pools, even dog parks—that add another layer to the term multifamily. For example, music lovers gather at the outdoor amphitheater in the Denizen 04 development in Austin, while outdoor living fans make use of grills and a saltwater pool. All of that is within walking distance—just two miles—from Austin’s enviable downtown.
Trend #2: The environment is important.
Businesses and homes alike have shifted focus to eco-friendliness in design and function. There are more options in materials, and long-term, saving energy costs just makes good financial sense. But that earth-focused spirit isn’t often a focus of multifamily housing—until now. LEED certification, an independent ranking of both material and performance, is one way for architects and developers to demonstrate a commitment to green-focused residential buildings, as with The Reserve Glenview, Illinois. There, BSB received LEED Silver Certification by integrating amenities such as ultra-high efficiency HVAC units, energy-efficient low-e Windows, low VOC-emitting finishes, and on-site recycling.
Trend #3: Modern design never went out of style.
Contemporary-minded buildings have never really, truly gone out of fashion, but now they’re embraced by everyone from millennials to baby boomers. At the Trio Scottsdale Lofts in Arizona, that aesthetic equals an exuberant blend of regional-appropriate colors that both update and complement a mix of more rigorous and geometric building forms.
Trend #4: Brownstones are back.
Say “the stoop” and you’ll likely get a nostalgic recollection of multifamily units, typically in urban centers. The stoop—really just a railing and a few steps—were the front porches of old, the way for neighborhoods to gather and mingle after work or on the weekends. The newest multifamily units, such as the Georgetown Denver Tech Center, fuse a more modern-day interpretation of the stoop along with historically appropriate details, such as brick façades.
Trend #5: We’re searching for community.
Architects and developers have options in their planning and design arsenals that they’re putting to use to consciously create a sense of community among residents of multifamily housing developments. Part of that is visual: No longer is the same façade, repeated endlessly, acceptable. There’s design push and pull in structures next to each other to create a sense of individuality. And architects are also taking care to place building forms in such a way as to encourage more shared spaces—front doors facing a courtyard, for example, as with the Dream Finders Silver Meadows development.
Trend #6: Sometimes we want elbow room.
While many multifamily developments of today do take advantage of infill opportunities, still others place themselves squarely outside dense neighborhoods. For those residents, multifamily housing offers a way to gain space, with expansive courtyards or grassy areas, and amenities such as pools and workout facilities that they would otherwise not have easy access to. These developments, such as the Oaks of Vernon Hills, may have room enough to push the boundaries apart between buildings, which in turn allows architects and developers to address different types of multifamily living arrangements—townhomes and more traditional apartments, for example.