Industry Experts Reveal Current Trends in Apartment Living
WASHINGTON, May 30 - The location of an apartment building remains the most important feature for renters when choosing where they want to live, according to industry experts during a recent webinar hosted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The experts also discussed key market trends emerging in interior, exterior and outdoor living and how generational differences affect apartment design. Multifamily builders and developers are focusing more on urban projects that are near public transportation hubs as Millennials--the largest segment of the renting population--want to spend less time commuting and more time creating a balance between career and lifestyle. "It's all about the lifestyle for today's renters. They want the urban experience of less commute time and immediate access to various activities," said Jeff Kayce, vice president at Bozzuto Development Company and one of the webinar's presenters. "Because of this, many developers are building near transit hubs and along transit lines. Bozzuto, for example, has been building many of its new apartments along DC's metro line to create easier access for its renters." Another trend seen in apartment living is the design of common areas. These areas are being designed to have one space bleed into another, creating a more open feel. "In the previous design cycle we saw separate, distinct rooms," said Rohit Anand, AIA, and principal of the KTGY Group and webinar presenter. "Now we have the computer room, media center and lounge all part of the same room, for example. This type of design helps foster interaction among residents." A focus on fitness also remains a top priority; however, the design of the fitness center has changed over the years. The fitness center is much more than a dark room overlooking the parking lot, according to the presenters. The size of the room is important--1,200 to 1,500 square feet is the minimum--as well as the view from the center. Having state-of-the-art fitness equipment along with a yoga and Pilates area is also something many renters are looking for in their choice of apartment. Blurring the lines of indoor and outdoor spaces is another trend seen in apartment design. The use of outdoor gathering areas is extended by incorporating heating elements and covered areas in the colder months, for example. The location of the pool has become important as it is often used as a design element. In specific locations, niche amenities like dog runs, pet washing stations, garden plots and bike storage/workshops are becoming more popular. Both presenters agreed that it is important for builders and developers to know their clientele before incorporating niche amenities like these.