May 18, 2022

Gensler Research Shares 5 Ways Developers Can Rethink The Future

April LaMon

What makes a great living experience? That is the question the Gensler Research Institute set out to find with its 2022 Residential Experience Index. The study sought to identify elements that provide residents with a satisfactory living experience and aspects of residential development they would prefer or prioritize as the real estate and economic landscapes continue to evolve. 

For the study, Gensler surveyed over 13,000 residents across nine diverse markets: Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, London, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Singapore. Based on the data, Gensler put together a list of the top 5 ways real estate developers can rethink the future of residential development and design

While affordability and more inventory remain top concerns for residents, Gensler notes there are many opportunities for developers to examine what residents really want out of their living experience. That way, they can create better housing, not just more housing. 

According to Gensler, “major decisions in many residential projects — from unit size and mix to amenity offerings — too often reinforce the status quo. The focus on standard practices and predictability has resulted in a growing ‘sameness’ of new residential development, and the lack of contextual and innovative solutions only spurs more resistance to new development by local communities.”

Here are five key findings from Gensler’s research that highlight what residents want to see with future real estate development. 

1. More Living Space

Gensler’s research found that residents desire more space, sometimes even preferring larger units over building amenities. With COVID spurring the work from home trend, the importance of improved building layouts, adequate space for storage and noise control solutions have grown to support “the diverse activities that occur in today’s homes, from working and exercising to cooking and relaxing.”

2. Reassessing the Value of Shared Amenity Spaces

In line with a need for more space, Gensler notes that developers should carefully consider the role of building amenities in future projects. The survey found residents most valued fitness centers and on-site parking but would eliminate other shared amenity spaces if necessary. Gensler states, “A comprehensive amenity strategy should consider not just the available spaces, but the activities and behaviors they could support and how they could change over time in response to residents’ evolving needs and interests among — a balance of space, programming, and service.” They also noted that amenity strategies should connect the building back to the surrounding neighborhood, noting residents who were surveyed preferred to be within walkable distance of grocery stores, restaurants and green space.

3. Design to Support Aging in Place

According to the survey, factors that promote aging in place have become increasingly important for residents. Gensler notes new development should be more “diverse, inclusive, and longevity-ready” and “able to support the needs of people at all life stages.”

4. Confronting Resistance to Development

Gensler states “NIMBYism (the “Not In My Backyard” attitude) transcends demographic groups.” New development sometimes causes resistance from a variety of different demographic populations, from low to high income. Gensler states we have an opportunity to “streamline strategies to entitlement that would benefit both developers and residents.”

5. Create Community Connection

According to Gensler, of the residents surveyed who live in multifamily housing, “82% believe it is important to feel a sense of community in their building” and “community cohesion may depend on the relationships between community members, but the built environment can still play a significant role.”

In conclusion, the Gensler survey found there are many opportunities to improve future real estate development in a way that offers a more positive and supportive living experience for residents of all types.

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