“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
Steve Jobs famously said this in a 1998 BusinessWeek interview. His approach ultimately led to one of the most influential innovations of our time: the iPhone.
You could say residential real estate developers have a similar mindset when it comes to amenities in high-rise condominium buildings.
Take the forthcoming Michigan Avenue luxury tower 1000M, for example. A few years ago, no one would have imagined that a golf simulator or virtual meditation room would be a draw for homebuyers. But as technology and design trends evolve, and competition heats up in the new construction market, developers are taking their amenity offerings to the next level in order to create a truly unique experience for residents.
Amenities of today
One common theme among today’s new luxury developments is that the amenity spaces serve as an extension of the home. At the Ritz-Carlton Residences, homeowners have the full-floor Landmark Club, where they can host a dinner party in the private dining room, unwind in the spa treatment room, or watch a movie in the screening room.
To make these spaces more functional and valuable for owners, developers are enlisting the services of professional designers. Chicago-based Gary Lee Partners has been intimately involved in the programming, layout and finishes for the amenities in a number of luxury developments.
David Grout and Donna Corbat, principals at Gary Lee Partners, say that one key area of emphasis is outdoor space – terraces with fire pits, outdoor kitchens, community gardens and dog runs are all attractive to homebuyers.
“We like to bring materials from the outside indoors and vice versa – whether that be a wood ceiling that carries through to add warmth, or using furniture that has an indoor-outdoor feel. The outdoor space feels like part of the room, and not just a concrete terrace with a railing,” said Grout. “Since many exterior amenities are on rooftops, they offer prime views, so it’s crucial to make them enjoyable even when it’s cold outside.”
Amenities of tomorrow
New tech innovations and design trends often start at the luxury level and work their way into the mainstream. That means the more experiential and personalized amenities we’re seeing in brand new upscale developments, such as demonstration kitchens and virtual meditation rooms, are likely to become more prevalent over time.
More sophisticated technology
Imagine walking into a building’s club room and saying “play Bruce Springsteen, and turn the lights on to 30%” …and just like that, it happens. David Welles, president of TVTI – a home and lifestyle technology company – expects this trend to emerge as voice control gets more sophisticated and reliable.
Welles also anticipates RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and NFC (Near-Field communication) will be used for things like opening doors and parking, while motion and facial recognition will replace the need for key fobs to get inside the building or its amenity areas. “The possibilities are endless with these technologies, and we are just in the beginning phases of it.”