Many apartment properties are still playing it safe with plain vanilla design in order to attract the greatest number of residents. But others are recognizing that bolder design decisions allow the marketing team to target specific demographics, which can lead to greater long-term success. Occupancy will likely be boosted by taking a design stance rather than trying to be all things to all potential and existing residents.
In the I interviewed Bethesda, MD-based Donatelli Development about their trend-setting use of color at Highland Park, a high-rise in Washington D.C.’s revitalized Columbia Heights neighborhood designed by Hickok Cole Architects and built by S.E. Foster Corporation. The lobby boasts a floor-to-ceiling backlit LED wall in a kaleidoscope of colors, a 400-gallon aquarium full of colorful tropical fish and a translucent, blue-resin staircase. Best of all (and the reason this property caught out attention) is that the LED wall is highly visible from the street; so the property engages passersby with its light show that changes every few seconds.
One of my local supermarkets recently installed a series of outdoor sconces that wash the exterior walls with a similar effect. I’m sure that not everyone in the neighborhood is thrilled, but I think it’s an interesting enhancement.
Another way to use color in multifamily common areas is to incorporate colored glass into the facade of the building or into a panel(s) that separates interior space. There are so many branding opportunities here. And you can do a little color—or a lot…
For example, the design team for Miami International Airport approached color with gusto for the installation (pictured above) called “Harmonic Convergence.” Their supplier and design partner GlasPro was awarded the 2012 World of Color Award, Interior Division at the Eastman World of Color Awards in Dusseldorf, Germany.
In addition to glass panels in a variety of sizes, GlasPro also carries resin panels as well as a line of more translucent materials in more than 125 colors. All are recognized by the USGBC and can help multifamily developers earn LEED credits.
Have you been thinking about introducing some color? Would you be bold or subtle?