Jonathan Boriack – How Projects are Tackling the Density Issue

October 8, 2018

OAKLAND, CA—As newly promoted associate principal for KTGY Architecture + Planning’s Oakland office, Jonathan Boriack is focused on design and construction of new for-rent and for-sale multifamily communities at Bay Area infill sites. Boriack’s current work involves leading the architecture for some of the region’s noteworthy projects.

Some of these projects include Innovation at Warm Springs in Fremont for Lennar Homes, a 110-acre transit-oriented master-planned community, Blocks 6 and 7 of Alameda Point Site A for Trumark Homes, part of the mixed-use TOD waterfront development gateway to Alameda Point, and Great Oaks mixed-use transit village for Pulte Homes and Tri Pointe Homes. In this exclusive, Boriack recently discussed the latest design trends in the category of for-sale communities in urban infill locations and some of the factors impacting these trends.

Building Vertical─As land and labor have gotten more expensive, architects and developers continue to look for ways to increase density, he says.

“We are designing residential communities at higher densities such as single level and stacked flats served by elevators, which is gaining popularity in the Bay Area,” Boriack tells “Builders and cities are willing to build taller buildings, which is a change from the more typical density of for-sale communities consisting of three-story townhomes or small lot single-family homes.”

For example, KTGY’s R+D Studio has created the Skytowns concept, a residential high-rise building composed entirely of two-story townhome units. While a typical high-rise residential tower may strive to achieve 80% efficiency, the Skytowns concept reaches near 90% efficiency by minimizing corridor and elevator lobby area. Access to all residential units is located at the lower level of each townhome.

Multigenerational Living─In the past, builders and designers would design homes to target a particular market segment.

“However, now we are designing a home to appeal to a wide group of buyers, multi-generations with a variety of needs and preferences,” Boriack tells “The floorplans are open and allow each homeowner to personalize rooms and spaces to fit their current and future needs. We are also incorporating universal design principles to ensure that the home can be usable by all ages and abilities. We are designing homes with the master bedroom on the main level or single-level living to accommodate aging in place.”

Design trends in both the detached and attached for-sale market include incorporating flexible rooms that can serve as a home office, den, library, craft/hobby room, workout room or kids’ homework or play room, and living suites that can be used for extended family, guests, caregiver or even as a rental.

Near Transit─The most significant amount of development is occurring in the transportation corridors near new BART stations. For example, the new BART station in Fremont just opened and the new station in Milpitas will soon open. And, there are also discussions about BART expanding operations to San Jose.

“We are finding that wherever there are new BART stations, the cities are open to or are pushing for higher densities and creating transit-oriented residential developments in these locations that might include both for-rent and for-sale opportunities as well as affordable housing,” Boriack tells

Located adjacent west of the new Warm Springs BART Station in Fremont, KTGY has worked with Lennar to develop a master plan that will include up to 2,200 for-rent, for-sale and affordable residential units, up to 700,000 square feet of commercial and office space, 685,000 square feet of R&D space, plus four acres of park space and an elementary school upon build out. Builders include Lennar, Shea Homes and Eden Housing, with Toll Brothers also building to the north and east of the BART station.

Mixing Use─As cities look to retain commercial business land, one of the ways that residential developers can help make projects pencil and provide economic benefit to the cities is to include a commercial use or hospitality in the land planning, Boriack says.

“A developer might sell off a portion of the site to a hotel operator or include retail on the ground floor with residential above or retail adjacent,” he tells “This allows builders and developers to consider sites that they might not have in the past.”

For example, Meritage Homes is developing a new 140-unit townhome community in Hayward (called Mission Crossing designed by KTGY) on the site of a former car dealership. Part of Mission Crossing’s land plan and entitlements includes an extended-stay hotel, which Meritage Homes sold to a hotel operator.

Rooftop Decks─With the emphasis on designing homes at higher densities, outdoor space can be at a premium, Boriack says.

“One of the ways that KTGY has addressed this issue is to include rooftop decks in many markets including the Bay Area,” he tells “In Dublin, close to the BART station and downtown retail, Trumark Homes’ new 60-unit for-sale townhome development, Perch, has nearly sold out. Every home at Perch has a private rooftop deck with an enclosed access stair that doubles as a separation from the neighboring unit’s roof deck.”

Community Gardens─Capitalizing on the farm-to-table social movement and shared outdoor space, KTGY’s R+D Studio has created an infill version of the “agrihood” concept, called The Patch, as a possible solution for residential development that supports sustainable food systems and aims to cultivate community through infill farming. To create enough open space for a small working farm on an infill site, clustered homes with a modest footprint preserve enough land for farming, common open space and private yards, says Boriack.

Pushing Sustainability─California has been a leader worldwide in promoting sustainability and was the first state to mandate solar power for new homes by 2020.

“Many cities within the state, such as Fremont, are jumping ahead of this deadline and requiring not only the inclusion of solar but also electric car charging stations, higher levels of insulation and greater water conservation,” Boriack tells