The 92-year-old Clark Adams Building, also known as the Bankers Building, on the Chicago Loop is set to become the largest co-living complex in the city. Local developer CityPads will complete an $80 million renovation to bring 505 residences, managed by Common, and an additional 159 apartments to the top 31 floors of the 41-story former office building. The renovation will be renamed the “Common Burnham,” named after the building’s original designers, the Burnham Brothers, who completed the project in 1927. This will be the fifth co-living space run by Common in Chicago, but the privilege of living in such a well-known building will be significantly more expensive than other locations, with rooms—not units—starting at $1,400 a month. While the building is setting co-living unit records in Chicago and many other major cities, it still pales in comparison to some of the gargantuan co-living spaces planned in other parts of the country. New York will get its own 500-person co-living building in 2022 from the London-based firm The Collective, while San Jose could see an 800-person occupancy tower as soon as 2021. The Loop area has become an attractive market for co-living spaces, in part because of the city’s high cost of living and downtown's rising office vacancies. Only about half of the Clark-Adams Building office spaces are currently occupied, and other office buildings in the area have gone through residential transitions, according to the Chicago Tribune. “You’ll start to see a lot of these Central Loop buildings being converted to residential," CityPads founder Andy Ahitow told the Chicago Tribune. "It’s an area that’s transitioning to a residential market. There are close to 20,000 people living in the Loop now, and it continues to grow." The Common Burnham will function much the same as other co-living spaces, with small single occupancy rooms and shared amenities like bathrooms, kitchens, and common spaces (aka, dorm-like). 105 West Adams Street is set to reopen its doors to tenants in early 2022.
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Quarters, a major European co-living company, plans to invest $300 million toward building new developments across the United States and becoming the nation’s largest co-living operator by 2022, according to an article in Curbed. Millennials are the primary target demographic for the co-living industry. Due to financial issues and their tendency to lead nomadic lifestyles, young adults are typically the most interested in shared housing spaces. By offering pre-furnished bedrooms, shared common spaces, and amenities such as 24/7 laundry access, cleaning services, Wi-Fi, and community events, co-living companies like Quarters want to provide Millennials with more affordable access to increasingly overpriced, metropolitan neighborhoods. Quarters’s $300 million expansion deal was made possible by a $1.1 billion fundraiser led by its parent company, Medici Living. Medici’s goal is to buy and build up to 35 co-living facilities throughout Europe, and over 1,300 new residential units in the U.S. within the next three years, according to Curbed. The Berlin-based company already operates co-living spaces in New York City and Chicago, but it plans on expanding its footprint to cities like Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Seattle—all of which are teaming with millennials and startup activity. Residential projects at these sites could house between 100 and 300 people, while new spaces in New York could hold up to 500. Like Quarters, other co-living firms have upped their ambition, diverting their attention away from small group homes to focus on large-scale high-rises. WeWork, the massive, New York-based co-working company, recently unveiled "WeLive," its latest co-living project with its first apartment building located at 110 Wall Street in Manhattan. The Manhattan high-rise, whose private studios start at $3,050 a month, offers apartment dwellers flexible leasing, access to fitness classes, cleaning and laundry services, potluck dinners, and a digital social network, all conveniently accessed through a mobile app. According to Curbed, WeLive, if successful, plans to eventually house 600 people throughout the 20 floors of the Lower Manhattan high-rise, as well as build more developments in other major U.S. cities. While co-living is not a new or innovative concept, companies like Quarters and WeWork have transformed it into a business model to take advantage of the fluctuating economy and provide young adults with a service that can make city living more affordable and hospitable.
With the opening of OMA’s Torre for Fondazione Prada, tours of midcentury Villa Borsani, and (a few days late to the Design Week party and thus not included here) the completion of Zaha Hadid Architects’ Generali Tower, Milan Design Week 2018 was exceptionally steeped in architecture. There was the usual abundance of collaborations with architects, such as Alejandro Aravena for Artemide, John Pawson for Swarovski, and David Rockwell’s The Diner with Cosentino and Design Within Reach, but it was the host of architectural installations and interventions that took it over the top. Here are ten memorable architectural moments of Milan Design Week 2018. Garage Traversi The rationalist 1938 Garage Traversi in Milan’s Montenapoleone District received a facade makeover by Studio Job for Milan Design Week. The Pop Art mural comes in advance of the building’s renovation into a “luxury hub” by British private equity fund Hayrish. The reinforced concrete building, originally designed by architect Giacomo de Min, sits on an odd lot, leading to it being built like a fan and resulting in its popularity. The iconic building has been unused for 15 years, but has retained its reputation as a cultural and architectural landmark. U-JOINT PlusDesign Gallery hosted an immensely satisfying architectural exhibition on joints. The group show offered joints of all sizes, materials, and shapes to demonstrate its importance in objects and buildings alike. Over 50 designers, studios, and research institutes, including Alvar Aalto, Aldo Bakker, Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby, Konstantin Grcic, Jonathan Nesci, Cecilie Manz, Self-Assembly Lab MIT, and Jonathan Olivares, displayed prototypes and products. My Dream Home by Piero Lissoni “My Dream Home,” an installation by Piero Lissoni, stacks twelve shipping containers vertically to host an exhibition by photographers Elisabetta Illy and Stefano Guindani of photos taken in Haiti alongside drawings by Haitian children of their dream homes. Lissoni chose to build with containers as an inexpensive, sustainable option that could potentially be used for multi- and single-family homes in Haiti. Altered States Snarkitecture is no stranger to Milan Design Week installations. For its most recent, the firm partnered with Caesarstone to create “Altered States” inside the 19th-century Palazzo dell'Ufficio Elettorale di Porta Romana. The installation examined water in its three forms (ice, liquid, steam/vapor) and the way it appears in nature (glacier, river, geyser) through a collection of kitchen islands made from Caesarstone’s quartz surface material. Villa Borsani In advance of an exhibition curated by Norman Foster and Osvaldo Borsani’s grandson, the Villa Borsani opened to visitors after being newly decorated by curator Ambra Medda, who collaborated with various artists to bring in floral arrangements, scents, and a playlist that enliven the midcentury villa. James Wines X Foscarini James Wines/SITE collaborated with Foscarini to make the “Reverse Room,” a slanting black box that houses a limited edition set of lights called "The Lightbulb Series." Wines relied on his research on subconscious spatial expectations to keep visitors constantly surprised. “This series comes from the idea of disrupting the classic design of incandescent light bulbs,” Wines said in a statement. “An idea that suggests a critical reflection on the absolutely non-iconic forms of modern LED lamps. The concept, implemented by Foscarini, stems from research on the spontaneous way people identify with forms and functions of everyday objects. In this case, the light bulbs merge crack, shatter, and burn out, overturning any expectations.” Fondazione Prada On April 18, the Fondazione Prada completed the latest, and last, building in its 200,000-square-foot Milan complex. Torre, designed by Rem Koolhaas, Chris van Duijn, and Federico Pompignoli of OMA, is wrapped in white concrete and nearly 197 feet tall. This form offers a two-fold experience: From the exterior, the spare, modern block contrasts with the more ornate buildings of the campus (the Italianate-style entry building, gold-painted tower, and the mirror-clad theater, among others) and from the interior, sweeping views of the surrounding industrial neighborhood. At the back of the building, an exterior elevator core is intersected by a diagonal form that connects the Torre to the adjacent Deposito gallery. The elevator's interior is painted an electrifying hot pink, framing the panorama of the campus in madcap fashion. The gallery's floors, currently occupied by the exhibition Atlas, are similarly eclectic. Floor plans alternate between trapezoidal and rectangular and the ceiling heights increase from about 9 feet on the first floor to 26 feet on the top floor, with glowing pink staircases in between. Even so, the space complements rather than competes with massive, immersive installations from heavy-hitting artists such as Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. (Although the maze-like entrance to Carsten Höller's Upside Down Mushroom is so dark, this writer ran into a wall.) 3D Housing 05 Massimiliano Locatelli | CLS Architetti collaborated with Arup, Italcementi, and Cybe to 3-D print a 1,076-square-foot house on-site. The house, located in front of the Piazza Cesare Beccaria, demonstrated that 3-D printing could be used as a sustainable and feasible construction method. The house was 3-D printed from a recycled concrete that, in the event the house is destroyed, could be reused to make a new structure. Lexus Design Award This year marked two firsts for the 2018 Lexus Design Award (LDA) Grand Prix Winner: It was the first time an American design team took home the prize, and the first time a workshop, rather than a product, won. New York design research studio, Extrapolation Factory, “studies the future” and helps communities create and experience their cities’ futures through workshops and activities. “We all have a vested interest in the future. But how many people have taken a class in futures?” asked Extrapolation Factory cofounder Elliott P. Montgomery. “We’ve had classes in history, math, science, but we are never taught how to think about the future. And this seems like a glaring omission in our country’s education.” Montgomery and his cofounder Christopher Woebken conducted a workshop at the Queens Museum and presented a video alongside a few props as their LDA presentation. The unusual urban planning project garnered praise for its focus on community and its exploration of society, technology, and environment. “It’s completely different than the other participants because it isn’t product-based. It is about education and using design as a way to engage with people, and given the context of the theme, CO-, we felt that was incredibly important,” said Simone Farresin of Formafantasma, who mentored the Extrapolation Factory for the LDA. MINI Living House London-based architecture firm Studiomama created four modular co-living spaces for MINI. Each module had its own color and built-in furniture “totems” that distinguish the space’s personality. The four units share communal spaces, including a kitchen (shown above), a dining area, a gym, and home theater space.
With housing prices soaring and available stock dwindling in cities across the country, the micro-unit apartment trend has spread to Boston for the first time. National Development and New York-based Ollie have teamed up to bring a 14-story co-living micro-unit apartment building to Boston’s South End. Ollie is no stranger to the micro-unit game, and its modular, nARCHITECTS-designed Carmel Place drew media attention after being built offsite and assembled in only a month. With units ranging from 260 to 360 square feet but market-rate prices, Ollie included concierge service and a suite of luxury amenities in an attempt to lure in tenants, a model it will attempt to replicate in Boston. Planned for the Ink Block complex in the South End, the Elkus Manfredi Architects-designed, 245-unit building will follow the co-living model, offering fully furnished apartments, free housecleaning services, and communal events that are meant to make the transition to co-living as clean as possible. With many of the units under 400 square feet, Ollie is trying to win over young professionals who either won’t be home that often, or won’t mind the lack of space. “You walk into this building and you feel like you’re in a millennial resort,” National Development managing partner Ted Tye told the Boston Globe. “It’s kind of like a grown-up college experience.” Combining the micro-unit and co-living models seems like a natural progression, as developers can trade unit square footage for the added experience that tenants receive. While the still-unnamed development isn’t the first micro-unit building in Boston, it is one of the first to bank on the idea that residents would willingly pay more for added services. The co-living model is catching on across the country, and Ollie has similar buildings in New York City and Pittsburgh, with others currently under construction in Jersey City and Los Angeles. WeWork’s WeLive buildings have also sprung up in New York and Washington, D.C., although their leases are typically short-term. The dorm-style communal living arrangement, complemented by access to WeWork office space in the same building, has been met with mixed reviews so far. Micro-unit arrangements have not arisen without their share of criticism, either. Still, Ollie feels that the demand for shared living spaces is particularly high in Boston. The Ink Block co-living building will still need approval from the Boston Planning and Development Agency before it can proceed. More detailed plans will be coming in the next month, and construction should begin sometime in 2018.
When touring a new set of apartments, one seldom expects to hear the units are "not for everybody" from the founder and CEO of the firm selling them. Brad Hargreaves of Common, however, isn't fearful his words will affect his business. New York–based Common, which manages nine co-living apartment buildings, prides itself on making living with strangers easier while offering a slew of amenities, including fully-furnished rooms, regular cleaning, WiFi, and more. This tour of 595 Baltic—the company's sixth location in Brooklyn—showcased their latest endeavor into the emerging co-living market. To get a place at Common, prospective tenants are interviewed and checks are made on their finances and background to ensure everything is in order. (This isn't Craigslist.) And while Hargreaves increasingly sounded like he was whittling down his audience in search of the right type of tenant, people are applying in their droves. Prior to opening Common Baltic, the company received more than 12,000 applications for an existing 120 rooms in New York and San Francisco. Walking into 595 Baltic Street—which can house 135 tenants—you're greeted by a lobby with elevators and two social areas coming off it. Herein lies the premise of Common: It aims to be a community, where faces are familiar and residents engage in activities together, even outside their apartment. "There are plenty of buildings where you can have your own private space and be anonymous in the elevator, but this is not that place," said Hargreaves. When setting up Common, Hargreaves said he and the firm took inspiration from the co-living culture in Europe, in particular, Bjarke Ingels' 8 House in Copenhagen. "In Europe, co-living is much more accepted. There are buildings built specifically for co-living residents, but not so much here," he said, later adding that Ingels' other housing projects in Denmark's capital acted as precedents for "fostering community." Common is attempting to establish this way of life in the U.S. Once a week, cleaners replenish kitchen basics (salt, pepper, kitchen roll) and tidy up the shared living spaces. All apartments are fully furnished, complete with washers, dryers and SONOS speakers. A gym, bike storage, and 40 parking spaces are available too. "We wanted to create a residential management company that specifically addressed the challenges of moving to a city and living with strangers," Hargreaves continued. "The biggest part of this, is the idea of community. We like that people here don't just open their doors to a hallway, they open to a living room where there are other people." "Communities" are bound by floors which typically hold 15 to 25 residents. On each level there is a "house leader." This person, who volunteers their services in the application process, keeps most things in order and plans events and activities for residents to take part in. Common even provides $50 a month per person for this. Floor managers also enjoy subsidized rent. The experience sounds akin to living in university dormitories. At 595 Baltic, "traditional," more private dwellings are available to rent too, the split is 50/50 between co-living and traditional apartments. Sophie Wilkinson, head of design and construction at Common, said the bedrooms across the nine Common locations all the same. Social areas, though, are slightly different and offer some variation. Wilkinson also explained that floors weren't designed for a "specific type" of person in order to avoid cliques. Fostering and focusing on a particular community can have its consequences. In his own article, Hargreaves studied two polarizing communities: The Villages in Florida, where the community is 98.4% white with a median age of 71; and Kiryas Joel, New York—the poorest zip code in the U.S.—where the median age is 13. "There’s a lot of talk right now about building new cities. But there’s surprisingly little attention or respect paid to the people who are actually doing it," he said. On the flip-side, Hargreaves argued: "People are complicated, building for humans is messy business, and the designs that work are often not the designs we want to work." "Our community spaces are intimate and comfortable, and become an extension of your suite, as another space for you to retreat to (by yourself or with friends)," Wilkinson added. "When designing the interiors of the suites, we considered comfort, layout, and convenience. Our members move in with a bag and a toothbrush and can be cooking that evening and crashing on the sofa that night. Our design style is focussed on quality with an eye to creating a relaxing home, but once moved in, members add their own furnishings, art, color, and style." If you do not like your community, those at Common are free to move to other locations and floors when the opportunity arises. Hargreaves, however, said that the main issue was having to turn people away. Developers it seems, are happy too. In June of 2016, Common raised $16 million with significant investment from the real estate community; led by 8VC, participants included Circle Ventures, the technology arm of the Milstein Family, LeFrak, Solon Mack Capital, Ron Burkle’s Inevitable Ventures and Wolfswood Partners. Common residents at 595 Baltic will begin moving in at the start of February. Common isn't, however, the only company vying for a share of the co-living "pie." Micro-apartment with similar amenities and living arrangements are also on the rise.