4 Trends Shaping Multifamily Construction Today
Rewind to early 2020 – Health and wellness, outdoor spaces, hybrid work environments, and technology were already trending in multifamily construction. Now, in post-pandemic 2022, these design trends have taken center stage.
Health and Wellness
As the world continues to grapple with the ever-evolving COVID-19, the need for healthy environments, both physically and mentally, is at an all-time high. Today’s multifamily residents are not only interested in swimming pools, fitness facilities, childcare services, and dog parks, but meditation rooms and yoga classes as well.
Units and communal spaces are incorporating proper air filtration, touchless fixtures, easy-to-clean surfaces, paints and materials with no/low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and circadian lighting fixtures in tune with the body’s natural cycles. And biophilic design strategies connecting people with the natural environment are a priority. This includes large windows and open floor plans bringing in lots of daylighting, balconies, plants, and natural materials like wood and stone.
For example, the 7-story boutique condominiums for Chicago’s new 1400 Monroe property features 9-foot ceilings, oversized loft-style windows, recessed balconies, and large terraces.
Through lockdowns and unprecedented time spent at home, access to the outdoors essentially transformed from a want to a need.
Rooftop amenities, pergolas, gardens, and walking trails are attracting renters and homeowners. In addition, people want to gather and socialize by fire pits, BBQ grills, wine bars, and large flat-screen TVs.
On point, the Luxe on Madison in downtown Chicago incorporates a dog run and rooftop terrace with a patio, fireplaces, and grilling area.
Within individual units, 73% of those surveyed by the New Home Trends Institute desire covered outdoor rooms/open-air rooms, 68% are interested in patios, and 55% want decks. Another 58% identified connection to the outdoors/nature as an important influence on their design choices in the coming years.
Whereas these types of features were more common with luxury housing, the trend has now expanded to affordable housing as well.
Hybrid Work Spaces
One major lesson learned from the pandemic is that employees can productively work from home. While many have returned to the office, the predominant mode is a hybrid set-up where folks split their time between the home and the office. The upshot is that multifamily homes and properties must be better equipped to support work settings.
In addition to creating spaces within the units themselves for daylit, technology-equipped working nooks, developers are revamping communal areas to provide workplace amenities such as co-working spaces, meeting/conference rooms, business centers, and lounge areas.
In addition to a rooftop terrace, dog run, and a fitness center, The Clark in Chicago offers a business center and a café.
Already in late 2020, the global real estate services company Newark reported that 14% of multifamily units had been renovated to accommodate more space for working. In all likelihood, those percentages have increased.
Following the touchless trend, multifamily properties are incorporating features like keyless locks and smart elevators. Many units have automated doorbells, security and lighting systems, and Alexa or Google Home speaker integration. Buildings are outfitted with intelligent building management systems and some properties are considering electrical car charging ports.
Whereas smart technology was previously relegated to upscale single-family homes, building owners are looking for ways to differentiate their properties and these technologies are emerging as a way to achieve that.
For instance, at 1400 Monroe, the units are equipped with smart home lighting technology.
As multifamily properties continue competing in a tough market, the incorporation of health and wellness, outdoor amenities, work spaces, and technology will be key. Aligning these offerings with strong consumer preferences in 2022 must be a fundamental aspect of these project designs.
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Barbara Horwitz-Bennett is a seasoned architectural journalist, covering the design and construction industry for the past 20+ years. She writes for numerous industry magazines and creates content for AEC firms and product manufacturers.