At the International Builders’ Show, architects discussed what amenities renters truly value in today’s competitive multifamily environment.

Health and wellness

Today, it isn’t enough to put a few treadmills in the basement of a community and call it a fitness center. Modern renters of all ages are looking to incorporate health and wellness into all aspects of their lives in convenient ways. Chung posed the question, “How do you capture (wellness), both in the product that you’re offering and in the setting, and how does that get translated to the aesthetic of the built environment?” According to Daniel Gehman, studio director at Humphreys & Partners Architects’ Newport Beach office, wellness in design today means integrating fitness, health and sustainability. “Sustainability has moved from just being solar panels on the roof and composting in the kitchen,” he explained. “Sustainability is your wellness in every aspect of your life. I’m welcoming seeing that shift as a discussion topic.”

While renters clearly have a desire to live a healthy lifestyle, they also still have the everyday constraints of jobs, families and other obligations. A multifamily community can foster a healthy environment in a convenient and interesting way by offering a diverse schedule of activities. “We have fitness trainers coming into a lot of our facilities now, they’re all organized yoga classes or fitness classes,” said Gehman. “We have a space specifically now for bike dudes to come in once a week, and if you have a problem with your bike and you really don’t want to get greasy or figure it out, he’s there.”

Chung warned that while fancy bike fixing studios or workshops might seem like they’d draw in the health-conscious, sustainable crowd, communities have to keep in mind that most renters prioritize convenience. He cited an AvalonBay community in Boston, where there is a large bike riding community, but the concept of a do-it-yourself garage didn’t take off. “They’d rather have someone else service (their bike),” he said. “Just because it checks all the boxes and you think it’s going to work; it doesn’t always work.”

Anand echoed the convenience theme and added that training doesn’t have to be in person for it to be customized. “We’ve also seen a lot more fitness-on-demand. Essentially, your apartment community can have a contract with somebody that’s specifically providing fitness (online). This could be yoga, any kind of weight sessions with a third-party company, and this is provided to you through the Internet. So you could be doing the same workout in D.C. as your friend in San Francisco,” he said. “That gets into the idea of community in a very virtual way.” read more