TOD and DIY Among Latest Apt. Trends

January 7, 2016

IRVINE, CA—The transit-oriented design craze will continue in the new year, and apartment renters are looking to personalize their space as well as have craft or hobby opportunities offered to them, KTGY Architecture + Planning designer Jessica Musick tells We spoke exclusively with Musick, who is based in KTGY’s Oakland, CA, office, and Manny Gonzalez, a principal in the firm’s Los Angeles office, about apartment-design trends they see on the horizon.

“A trend that will continue into 2016 is the emphasis on transit-oriented locations,” says Musick. “For example, new BART stations in Fremont and Milpitas in the Bay Area have generated large mixed-use projects such as Warm Springs in Fremont and 450 Montague in Milpitas. I expect that new developments will continue to follow the expansion of BART down to San Jose. We’re looking at multiple sites around the future Berryessa BART station in San Jose.”

Musick notes that 2016 will also bring interesting solutions to add density in urban-infill markets. “We are starting to receive interesting requests to add units to existing residential communities, and cities like Mountain View and Menlo Park are becoming more accepting of unique solutions. We’re looking at sites that have been converted from industrial to residential in cities like Menlo Park and seeing communities like Mountain View and Sunnyvale welcome increased densities and lower parking ratios.”

Additionally, with the proliferation of all the many do-it-yourself TV shows and websites like and, renters want the ability to not only personalize their space but also look to the apartment community to have “craft” or hobby opportunities, Musick says. “Whether it’s programming ‘do-it yourself’ spaces or creating common areas for bike repair/maintenance, allowing residents access to space where they can work with their hands and tools is a must,” Musick said.

Gonzalez agrees. He says it is important to Boomers that they have many of the amenities that were left behind when they moved from their single-family home like a garden, workbench, outdoor kitchen and dining and socializing areas. They also want convenient access to neighborhood amenities like a grocery store or drug storerestaurants and entertainment.

On the site of a former entertainment center in Costa Mesa, adjacent a 120,000-square-foot grocery/drug-anchored shopping center, KTGY designed a resort-inspired 55-plus apartment community, Azulón at Mesa Verde. “We created a walkway that links the residents of Azulón to the adjacent shopping center so they wouldn’t have to cross a street or a parking lot,” Gonzalez says. Azulón also features a resort-style saltwater pool and spa, a clubhouse with a demonstration kitchen, library, and screening room with a 4K ultra-high definition projector, fitness center, yoga studio, organic and citrus gardens and lush landscaping.

“We are also seeing tech introduced into both the leasing experience as well as the residents’ lifestyle,” says Musick. “From Twitter walls to resident apps, incorporating tech into our projects is becoming expected.” Other tech features Musick lists includes projection lighting, where an ad or billboard is projected on to the side of the apartment building; a leasing kiosk with a large glass touchscreen for prospective renters; virtual apartment tours; messaging and website portals for the latest news and for making an appointment; and transit screens and package lockers.

“We are currently incorporating electronic package-concierge services into many of our newer communities, where UPS or FedEx can select a storage space of the appropriate size, place the packing in and lock the door with a unique bar code,” says Gonzalez. “That bar code is also sent to the resident who is then able to open the door and retrieve the package at their convenience. There are also similar versions for dry cleaning and refrigerated ones for groceries and perishable items.”

Gonzalez adds that KTGY has incorporated an automated parking system in one of its designs. “You just drive your car up, swipe your keycard, and the automation system moves and parks your vehicle. That is an amazing feat, and a lot like a magic show when someone makes a car disappear!”

Also, instead of a keycard or key, Gonzalez says that residents can use their phone to open their door. “And, not in the too distant future, we could have retinal scanners for access control! You need to set yourself apart from the competition and give renters something they can’t get anywhere else.”