Market Drivers: The New Faces of Residential Living

Rather than play it safe, some developers push the design envelope to anticipate what consumers will want next.

Rendering of One Thousand Museum

From site location and construction financing to lease-up and then—fast forward 20 years—renovation and rebranding, the lifecycle stages of a multifamily asset remain largely the same from decade to decade. But when it comes to design decisions and pulling together an innovative team, some developers are more daring than others.


You might not remember the very first green apartment building. Or the first affordable housing project venture that found a way to deliver market rate finishes. However, multifamily assets that don’t explore innovation in architecture and design may have trouble leasing up and retaining residents. Even more important than being first to market is the ability to recognize an exciting new direction and run with it.

The following case studies are just a few standouts from the many innovative multifamily projects currently on the boards or already open for business. What makes these projects stand out? What challenges did the designers need to overcome? Here’s the latest in micro living, affordable housing and more.

Zaha Hadid’s Supertall Legacy

Project: One Thousand Museum

Location: Miami

Developers: Louis Birdman, Gregg Covin, Kevin Venger, Regalia Group

Construction Management: Plaza Construction

Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects

Completion: 2018

Rendering of One Thousand Museum

One Thousand Museum by Zaha Hadid Architects is a luxury residential high-rise tower currently under construction in Downtown Miami. Standing 709 feet and 62 stories tall, the tower marks late Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid’s first and final residential skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere.

This is a project that will not only enhance Miami’s skyline but also redefine the standard of luxury for residential projects,” said Brad Meltzer, president of Plaza Construction. “We do not shy away from challenging projects; as such, we were immediately interested when we saw the overall complexity of the job. To date, the project team has faced some major tests, but the project has remained on schedule.

One Thousand Museum will be highly resistant to Miami’s demanding wind loads, including hurricanes, while also introducing a new aesthetic to the city’s skyline. According to Zaha Hadid Architects Project Director Chris Lepine, the structure reads top to bottom as one continuous liquid frame. The emphasis is on expressing the dynamism of the structure in an integrated whole that avoids the frequent typology of a tower resting on a base.

One Thousand Museum is arguably one of the world’s most challenging builds,” Meltzer added. The tower features a one-of-a-kind undulating exoskeleton comprised of 5,000 pieces of lightweight glass-fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC). “The use of GFRC—manufactured in and imported from Dubai—as a permanent formwork system is a first in high-rise construction, and it increases efficiency throughout the process.

This unique method—consisting of lightweight, hollow panels that come together to form a structure that is core-filled with concrete and steel—has allowed the construction team to space the building’s columns up to 40 feet apart, embracing the concept of the free plan. This will give residences and communal areas an open look and feel.

Rendering of One Thousand Museum

One Thousand Museum’s interiors, also designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, showcase the same level of detail exhibited on the tower’s architecture. Four units are two-story duplexes, two are penthouses, with most of the remaining units ranging between 4,600 and 4,800 square feet each. High-end finishes include kitchens and closets by Poliform, appliances by Gaggenau and Sub-Zero, LED lighting by Apure, and home automation by Crestron. A massive 30,000-square-foot, two-story amenity deck, located on the tower’s top two levels, will feature Miami’s only private helipad with accompanying concierge service.

Affordable Shipping Container Chic

Project: Hope on Alvarado

Location: Los Angeles

Developer: Aedis Real Estate Group

Architect: KTGY Architecture + Planning

Completion: 2018

Rendering of Hope on Alvarado

Despite the fact that it’s a huge problem nationwide, Los Angeles has become the poster child for America’s homelessness crisis. Aedis Real Estate Group wants to change that with a new concept using shipping containers as a primary building material. Located at 166 S. Alvarado St. in the Westlake district, west of Downtown Los Angeles, Hope on Alvarado is the first in this new series of area developments. Upon completion, the affordable community will also provide much needed support services for people transitioning from homelessness.

In addition to providing architectural character, leveraging shipping containers allows for accelerated construction. Hope on Alvarado will take only six months to build, with construction expected to be completed this year. This will be the first of several Hope developments in Los Angeles to come online in the next 12 months.

This is our first foray into shipping container construction,” said Keith Labus, principal in the Irvine office of KTGY Architecture + Planning. Labus describes the aesthetic as shipping container chic. “There’s a lot of inherent character in the corrugated steel texture so we made that an integral part of the design,” he explains. “On future projects, you may not even see the shipping containers. Every location has its own context, so we are working to create a unique experience with each project.” 

For KTGY, it all started with Hope on Alvarado, but currently the firm has half a dozen projects utilizing shipping containers in various stages of design. “We’re seeing two different delivery methods. The conversion of existing shipping containers into residential units locally and residential units built in shipping container factories and shipped to the project site,” Labus explained. KTGY is working through issues of availability and scalability with its clients, consultant teams and contractors to make the most informed decisions. Different projects require different construction types, so there’s no one-size-container-that-fits-all solution.

Rendering of a studio interior at Hope on Alvarado

Just like anything new, it may take some time to be more widely accepted and understood by local jurisdictions, developers, contractors and lending institutions,” Labus added. “If these first projects are successful, I think this can become a viable option for creating more affordable housing.

Adaptive Reuse Meets Mixed Use

Project: The Dime

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Developers: Charney Construction Development, Tavros Capital Partners

Architect: Fogarty Finger Architecture Interiors

Completion: Spring 2019

Rendering of The Dime

Brooklyn’s South Williamsburg continues to generate excitement, and one project in particular is in the public eye. The Dime is an adaptive reuse of The Dime Savings Bank—Williamsburg’s iconic 109-year-old bank building—that will preserve the historic neoclassical structure and integrate its base within a newly constructed tower. Located at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge and rising 22 stories on the one-acre site, the tower will be one of the tallest in the neighborhood.

Designed by Fogarty Finger Architecture Interiors, the 342,451-square-foot mixed-use development will include 177 rental apartments, 100,000 square feet of office space and 55,000 square feet of retail as well as an onsite parking garage that will provide 340 new parking spaces. The property will also include green space designed by Grain Collective: In fact, the largest amenity is a 23,000-square-foot roof deck and garden that commercial and residential tenants will share, according to the firm’s founder, Robert Finger.

Apartments at The Dime will feature luxury finishes, premier amenities and sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and East River. “Our design concept for the residential interiors was inspired by Hygge, a Danish philosophy that centers on comfort and wellness. Danish-inspired, light, warm wood materials throughout serve to bring the character of the exterior inside and instill a sense of place and calm for residents,” Finger explained.

Fogarty Finger designed the new Art Deco-inspired tower with ribbon windows and rounded corners. It will be surfaced with white terra cotta tiles that complement the former bank’s façade. “The fluted Corinthian columns of the bank building are echoed throughout our façade design via vertical and horizontal fluted terra cotta panels. The residential lobby walls carry the gesture of the fluted façade as well, but at a different scale,” said Harshad Pillai, associate director at Fogarty Finger. “Similarly, the plaster in the lobby and the neutral, earthy palette throughout the amenity floor nod at the bank’s presence next door.

Rendering of The Dime

The restoration of the 16,700-square-foot bank will involve revitalizing existing columns and maximizing natural lighting by replacing the current skylight. The plan is to let the old Dime Bank become a flexible commercial area, with spaces for a showroom, an office lobby for tenants or standalone retail.

Living Large in Micro Units

Project: 388 Fulton

Location: San Francisco

Developer: 7×7 Development

Architect: David Baker Architects

Completion: 2016

388 Fulton

The definition of a micro unit is largely determined by the market in which it exists. It might be as much as 500 square feet in Dallas or under 300 square feet in New York. In San Francisco, 35 of the condos at 7×7 Developments’ 388 Fulton are a compact 325 square feet. The building also offers six one-bedroom units and 28 two bedrooms.

More than 40 percent of the apartments—at each corner and facing the courtyard—have two bedrooms. This is city policy to allow new residential developments to accommodate families,” David Baker, principal at David Baker Architects, told Multi-Housing News. In a sign of the times, there is no resident parking but each unit is provided a secure spot in the well-appointed bike room.

The six-story condo is just two blocks from San Francisco’s City Hall, and it blends seamlessly into the urban fabric of the neighborhood. David Baker Architects designed the exterior with curves that complement the dome and dramatic black glazed tiles that provide contrast. The rooftop boasts an Instagram-worthy close-up view of the dome.

I think that the most interesting design challenge was actually the process of convincing the planning staff of the curved, black-tile facade,” said Brett Jones, associate at David Baker Architects. “We went through a long process of redesigning and presenting other colors. The planning staff wanted it to be a more traditional, creamy white color to match what they felt was San Francisco’s aesthetic. In the end, both the neighborhood association and the planning commission preferred the black—unanimously, I must say. It seemed that San Francisco was ready for something a bit different.

388 Fulton

The project is registered with GreenPoint and built to its rated standards, including diversion of construction waste, efficient and smart landscape irrigation, native species landscaping and a solar thermal hot water system. Exterior aluminum shades angled over the windows provide maximum sun blockage in the spring and fall. “We paid special attention to designing the passive solar shading system to truly minimize solar heat gain,” Jones added.

Residents and visitors pass through a Feng Shui-compliant courtyard before entering the building. “In our work, we often try to have a Feng Shui entrance,” said Jones. “We find that having a semi-private space is a necessary transition between the public realm of the streetscape and a residence’s private unit. It allows the resident to decompress and relax slowly as they progress through the building and into their home.

Sharing the Excitement of Wrigley Field

Project: The Residences at Addison & Clark

Location: Chicago

Developer: JV of M&R Development and Bucksbaum Retail Properties LLC

Architect: Solomon Cordwell Buenz 

Management: RMK Management Corp.

Completion: Mid-August 2018

The Residences at Addison & Clark

Located just across the street from Wrigley Field, The Residences at Addison & Clark is a transit-oriented, mixed-use development in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. The joint venture development will include 148 luxury apartments and 150,000 square feet of retail.

Designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, The Residences at Addison & Clark will offer a mix of studio/convertible, one- and two-bedroom floor plans with one or two baths. They’ve been designed with engineered hardwood floors, high-end kitchens with quartz countertops, Leedo textured European-style cabinets and stainless-steel Whirlpool appliances, as well as in-unit laundry and walk-in closets. A customizable slat wall system in each residence can be personalized to hang anything from planters, bags and coats to bikes and even a small foldable table.

Aside from the ultra-prime location, the sophisticated design touches throughout the residences and the common areas will definitely be a strong selling point for potential residents,” said Anthony Rossi Sr., president of M&R Development. “Not to mention the fact that the views from select units—including panoramic skyline vistas to the south and east—are stunning.

Residents will not be able to see into the stadium, but they’ll be looking down and taking part in the party in the new plaza at Wrigley, according to Gary Klompmaker, associate principal at Solomon Cordwell Buenz. “This project is part of a very eclectic and festive mixed-use neighborhood with Wrigley right in the middle, and this atmosphere inspired the building design.

The site is really large and it allowed for a large building, so part of the mission was making a large building feel like part of the neighborhood,” added Klompmaker. “To help it fit in, we kept the street wall at the first two floors. Then we stepped the building back several times for the residential portion above. It has big impact, but it doesn’t feel like a looming, massive building.

Rendering of The Residences at Addison & Clark

The Residences at Addison & Clark is a largely masonry building that complements the existing design vocabulary of the neighborhood, which is predominantly brick faced. “We used a combination of darker and lighter bricks, in different colors, to express different uses within the building and also give interest to the form of the building,” Klompmaker told MHN. This variety also expresses the excitement and energy of the dynamic neighborhood.

Showcasing Addison & Clark’s 148 luxury apartments with its upscale amenities against the backdrop of the iconic Wrigleyville neighborhood is integral to our marketing because of the area’s distinct advantage as a top Chicago designation for work, play—and now, living,” said Diana Pittro, executive vice president at RMK Management Corp.

Images courtesy of Tim D McCoy, KTGY Architecture + Planning, Zaha Hadid Architects, Fogarty Finger Architecture Interiors and Solomon Cordwell Buenz

You’ll find more on this topic in the June 2018 issue of MHN.

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