How COVID-19 has altered apartment design, construction

When the COVID-19 outbreak shut down the entire world final yr, Gary McLuskey, running director of worldwide layout at Charleston, South Carolina-centered Greystar, despatched a memo to his crew with notes about how he imagined the worldwide pandemic would adjust apartment lifetime.

Eighteen months later on, McLuskey seems appropriate about a good deal of factors. His be aware to his staff at Greystar, an global business that is also the most significant apartment supervisor and developer in the U.S., pointed to more people operating from household into the foreseeable future and an raise in bundle and food deliveries, between other issues.

These COVID-19-spawned life-style variations existing a predicament for condominium developers. Apartments aren’t built overnight. Commonly, it can take a handful of years to construct a project. So what may well be well known today may not be en vogue a few many years from now when people start streaming into a new setting up. That forces multifamily developers to make a bet that could be costly: Is it well worth the hazard to build flats and facilities that cater to transform introduced on by the pandemic?

Quite a few in the condominium industry say the response to this question is yes. Some firms, like Austin, Texas-dependent scholar housing business American Campus Communities, are completely putting in touchless soap dispensers, foot pulls and hand dryers to reduce touchpoints, and disinfectant wipe stands and touchless hand-sanitizing stations.

But numerous of the style and design and development modifications are even even bigger than that.

“It feels like after obtaining absent through this calendar year-and-a-50 % course of action [with COVID-19], matters might by no means go back,” McLuskey told Development Dive.

Here are four approaches COVID-19 is producing key changes in what an condominium residence might search like in the long term:

More adaptability

AMLI Residential delivered room for its residents to get the job done at AMLI Addison.

Permission granted by AMLI Household


As COVID-19 spread in March 2020, places of work in cities across the planet shut. That forced apartment dwellers to carve out a room for telework.

Even right after offices open again up, developers anticipate that development to proceed. “That plan of being in a position to get the job done from house has turn out to be much extra pronounced,” said Joan Sizemore, the inside style director for Texas at Minneapolis-centered architectural agency BKV Group.

To satisfy the demand for more room to operate, apartment developers are producing changes like incorporating constructed-in desks. To find space for these workspaces, developers could lower into other places of the condominium. For occasion, as a substitute of possessing a 6- or 7-foot closet, Sizemore thinks developers could eliminate a couple of toes and insert a 30-inch workstation. Or they could decreased component of the countertop in the kitchen and make it a function place.

The want to carve out flexible, useful locations is also bringing back an previous room-preserving favorite — Murphy beds. These days, suppliers, like Boston-dependent Ori, are giving beds that do more than just pull down from the wall. They can remodel into other works by using.

“With Murphy beds, you can flip up the mattress and it presents you a desk,” McLuskey reported. “But you can also flip up the desk, which could then convert into an work out area.”

Shared operate areas

A person Paseo in San Diego offers plenty of room for working.

Permission granted by TCA Architects


Sometimes, condominium dwellers want to leave even the nicest models when they are functioning from home all working day. 

Even right before the pandemic, apartment developers acknowledged that residents required to get out and get the job done amid their neighbors. With much more telework now, the acceptance of these areas should only raise. 

Chicago-based mostly apartment operator, supervisor and developer AMLI Residential not too long ago purchased a home that has 12 non-public workplaces that are totally leased with a waitlist, in accordance to McCormick. 

“Some of the places of work have fantastic sights with a lot of natural daylight even though others are on an inside corridor – even the 6-by-6 places of work without views are in large demand from customers as some citizens are keen to have a dedicated workspace that is cost-free from interruptions,” said James McCormick, head of acquisitions and dispositions at AMLI. “The coworking areas and personal offices are now a Best 3 amenity once you get previous the pool and health club. Some of the private workplaces are becoming utilized as ‘Zoom Rooms.'”

Condominium operators have watched how inhabitants utilized these coworking areas during the pandemic and have made changes. For instance, Greystar built-in a large amount of one-person booths inside of its workspaces as it noted the need to have for privacy in communal doing work spaces for cellphone calls or movie conferences. 

Developers and architects are also developing a number of places wherever residents can do their positions.

“As a substitute of owning one co-functioning area that we employed to the connect with the organization middle, we are now delivering people chances in several distinctive sites, regardless of whether it is about the pool place or in cabanas, the mailroom, booths or lounge areas,” said Aram Chahbazian, president and CEO of Irvine, California-dependent TCA Architects.

Finding outside

At the Marina del Rey Apartments, renters can love fresh new air when doing work inside of. 

Authorization granted by TCA Architects


When citizens are doing work at household performing all day, occasionally they just want some fresh air. If they can access it devoid of leaving their device, even greater.

“I feel outside area in the unit, the balconies, is at a top quality,” McLuskey mentioned. 

But apartment developers and architects aren’t just minimal to accessing outside regions in personal models. Regardless of whether on a roof deck, a podium deck or the floor floor, Chahbazian claimed companies are also exploring ways of opening amenity spaces to the outdoor by turning windows into sliding doorway units. 

“So alternatively of that 3-foot-vast door or even a 4-foot-extensive doorway, you get a 30-foot-wide opening,” Chahbazian explained. “You open up up the total wall, basically, by sliding panels.”

Of class, experiencing new air is even superior when people can bring their pets. Through the original phases of the pandemic, a ton of residents adopted animals to fight thoughts of stress and isolation. Though condominium owners had begun to increasingly cater to pet house owners prior to the pandemic, McCormick thinks that the earlier 18 months have accelerated the evolution. He stated these pet parks are “no more time throwaway house with an Astroturf rectangle adjacent to the parking deck.”

“Some of them [pet parks] are positioned in the most scenic and woodsy regions of the home and in some scenarios are positioned on rooftops with panoramic views and pet impediment courses,” McCormick stated. 

Room for deliveries

Citizens can decide up deliveries from deal lockers at AMLI Residential’s AMLI 808 in Chicago.

Permission granted by AMLI Household


Even prior to the pandemic, condominium operators were being utilizing package deal rooms and lockers to accommodate an raise in deliveries. But in 2020, working with this avalanche of offers grew to become an even even bigger problem as residents started buying from their telephones and desktops instead of likely to shops. AMLI has extra bundle rooms to cope with even larger merchandise and chilly storage for meals deliveries.

“A property’s method for dealing with package deliveries is only as superior as it performs during the vacation season’s tsunami of deliveries,”  McCormick said. “The quality of everyday living for the inhabitants is diminished if they are not able to get their offer in timely and secure ways – and it can show up in scores and evaluations. Bundle deliveries and resident pickup can be a substantial distraction for an in any other case pretty occupied onsite workers that is targeted on delivering wonderful client provider on better-benefit requests.”

Matt Shepard, vice president of design at Chicago-based mostly construction agency Kinzie Real Estate Group, suggests bundle lockers are not even plenty of to keep deliveries for some of his apartment growth and proprietor consumers.

“We had to find a way to reconfigure some of the mechanical rooms and make that room a little more effective so that we could have an overflow [package] location,” Shepard suggests.