Ben Kasdan | KTGY Designs Clean, Green, and High-Tech

TecHome Builder

August 4, 2015

Clean, green and high-tech are three bywords in any project undertaken by the design group at KTGY Architecture+Planning, Los Angeles.

“They say that the only constant is change, and KTGY tries its best to embrace change and even anticipate it,” says Ben Kasdan, AIA, LEED AP and senior designer for KTGY. He means in both the physical buildings and the technology.

KTGY designs multifamily housing for diverse populations—for-rent, for-sale, market-rate, affordable, luxury, Millennials, Baby Boomers, 55+ and assisted living—and works with national real estate investment trusts, private and boutique developers, and nonprofits.

Among his favorite spots is the revived Primera Terra project in Playa Vista, California, a for-sale community built by KB Home. “It’s like the phoenix coming back from the ashes,” he says. In its first life, Primera Terra got as far as the underground garage and fell victim to the economic downturn. Building stopped.

Later, a new developer took over—and wanted to take sustainability to the extreme.

“One thing they wanted was electric car stations,” Kasdan says. However, the concrete had been poured and the garage was partly built. KTGY found wall-mountable chargers that would fit the bill without major modifications. The solution contributed to LEED Platinum certification.

KTGY is not a company caught up in West Coast New Age design. Its work is not limited to Los Angeles. They have projects in the Bay Area, Utah, Colorado, Oregon and along the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

Everywhere, they look at green impacts and technology. They often include solar, geothermal, EV charging stations, green roofs and bicycle-related features.

Kasdan notes that many of their green solutions are not digital. The bike rails and in-unit racks in their RockVue Apartments in Broomfield, Colorado, and at the AVA H Street project in Washington, DC, are good examples. “They are more pragmatic than cutting-edge,” he admits. “But they add to the experiential quality of the buildings. I’m not big on one-size-fits-all solutions, but I like it best when technology improves people’s daily lives.”

In general, KTGY’s developer clients seem most interested in technology that will set their communities apart. “We see a lot of interest in intimate human-scale technology related to thermal comfort and mobile-device synchronization,” Kasdan says.

Early in the design process, we need to know which tech features will be in our client’s budget,” Kasdan says. Clients fill out a product checklist that outlines the specs and tech amenities for the project.

“We save space for interactive touchscreen displays and green roofs, while USB charging outlets and automated thermostats need to be accommodated from a mechanical, electrical and plumbing coordination standpoint later.”

KTGY incorporates passive strategies such as solar orientation, as well as more active ones such as solar and geothermal energy, LED lighting, low-flow plumbing fixtures and high-efficiency HVAC equipment.

If Kasdan were “king,” he says he would mandate proper solar orientation combined with cool roofs, adequate glazing and shading devices.

 “I would also suggest energy-efficient appliances, air conditioning, heating and lighting, as well as water-efficient plumbing fixtures, as a standard for all multifamily units.”