Multifamily & Apartment Common Area Design Trends: 2022 Outlook

In the last several years, the multifamily market has grown tremendously – perhaps even exponentially. According to Forbes, 2020 experienced a 50% increase in newly-constructed multifamily units compared to 2019 – and that growth occurred during a pandemic! Couple that with a 96.9% occupancy rate across major metropolitan areas in 2021, and a very clear picture is painted – multifamily units aren’t going anywhere.

With such a large rise in multifamily unit popularity, and the continued adjustments that society has made to cope with the pandemic, resident expectations are at an all-time high. With a rapid shift to remote work, elevated technology usage, and the ever-changing ways that people socialize together, functional communal spaces and amenities have come to the forefront of those expectations.

It’s critically important that property managers, asset managers and condo association boards understand residents’ needs, and implement changes to accommodate those needs.

“The pandemic definitely changed the way people view their living spaces,” says ETI President Ivan Tello. “It’s been interesting to see the trends that have emerged and the impact it’s had on multi-family construction. There’s no doubt that these trends are indicative of people’s most immediate needs.”

To help you gauge those needs and expectations, here are some popular multifamily design trends that are trending in 2022 and beyond.

Work from Home Spaces & Business Centers
The proliferation of work from home capabilities due to the pandemic has transformed the very concept of how human beings accomplish work tasks – it’s been totally reimagined. Businesses are continuing to promote hybrid and remote work options in lieu of a full-time return to traditional office spaces.

Because of this trend, renters desire the ability to work from within their building – but not necessarily from their own individual unit. While the majority of the workforce has embraced the work from home movement, there are a few shortcomings that have been expressed, especially the feeling of isolation or “cabin fever” experienced on a daily basis. Providing a communal work from home option has become a must-have for renters – it allows them to work somewhere other than their apartment without having to actually leave the building.

Residents are seeking large, accessible spaces with plenty of seating, private rooms for virtual meetings, and access to shared technologies such as printers, scanners, and a powerful wi-fi network.

Health, Wellness & Fitness
The pandemic has brought an acute focus on and deep awareness of personal health & wellness. Many renters have become accustomed to exercising from their homes, so providing a range of in-building workout options has become pivotal.

Asset managers countrywide have made improvements to onsite gyms and workout facilities including expansion, redesign, and purchasing brand new exercise machines and equipment. Some have even gone as far as installing swimming pools, yoga rooms, and meditation rooms.

Outdoor Utilization & Connection to Nature
Outside of better fitness facilities, residents have also expressed a need for accommodations as it relates to mental wellbeing – especially biophilic design concepts. Biophilic design is meant to connect residents with nature in simple ways through thoughtful, intentional building design elements. Examples of biophilic design include vegetation-heavy rooftop and terrace lounges, botanical gardens, outdoor fire pits, and access to plenty of natural sunlight.

Access to the outdoors has become important for renters. Being able to get outside while still being on-premise is key. That’s why emerging trends such as onsite walking trails and dog parks have become so popular – it provides a convenient outdoor escape without having to leave the building’s vicinity.

Gathering Areas & Entertainment Options
Quality of onsite amenities has become crucial for renters – and that includes having access to on-premise social and entertainment options. Some of the most popular trends revolve around communal gathering areas. Specific examples include a shared Party Room that typically features a bar, kitchenette, and a refrigerator, and can be booked in advance.

Another popular new trend is a Game Room – a shared space that has televisions to watch sporting events, billiards, or ping-pong tables. Modern renters place a premium on having in-building entertainment options that will provide them the opportunity to socialize with their neighbors.

The rental market is as popular as ever, and apartment and multifamily property managers need to be creative and diligent when they make decisions about value-adds to the properties they manage.

If you’re a property manager and would like to discuss how ETI can help you design and build these types of value-add projects for your apartment complex or multifamily buildings, feel free to call us at (773)-299-6574.