It is no secret that everything changed in 2020 when the world shut down due to Covid-19. The way we work, interact with others and move about both public spaces and our own homes. One of the most monumental shifts was how we went about schooling and education – from our society’s youngest members in pre-kindergarten classes to medical students and Ph.D. candidates. The school became the home and vice-versa. When the pandemic hit, I taught through “Teach for America.” As a teacher in an urban area, a vast home with empty rooms and open space was not a reality for my student’s families. In shared apartments, the family room acted as the workplace and schoolhouse. To focus, students built blanket forts in their bedrooms, and parents converted closets into cubicles.
The world of multifamily residential design has experienced a ripple effect. As a result, a new trend emerged in the multifamily residential design industry the inclusion of onsite daycare or school-from-home rooms specifically designed for children. To understand how and why this trend exists, let’s transport ourselves back to Spring 2020.
In-building daycare centers or school rooms specifically designed for children enable designers to create a space that specifically addresses the needs of our youngest residents. These needs can include areas for play with age-appropriate climbing equipment or even outdoor space with ample room for running and playing. Perhaps SR/A had a crystal ball because, as far back as 2014, we designed and installed a playroom in our Oronoco project (as shown in the feature image). Unfortunately, unlimited amenity space is not always a possibility. That requires the designer to use creative solutions to ensure buildings in urban settings create spaces ALL residents can find helpful, even children.
Incorporating formal artistic elements into the projects at SR/A is one of the ways we make sure the imaginations of all residents, no matter their age, are engaged and activated. Check out these photos of colorful sculptures by artist Mark Schwenk SR/A installed at our Denizen project in Eisenhower Square. This pop of movement speaks to all people, creating a fun, engaging outdoor space.
SR/A is not only a master of design but coordination as well. We create seamless transitions from interior to exteriors made by our landscape architect partners with solid communication and collaboration. This space at our 360H build exemplifies this. You can see a glimpse of the outdoor space, which acts as a tranquil escape from urban life for adults and a new world of exploration for children. Our youngest residents can enjoy flora and fauna in this outdoor classroom despite the urban environment.
Kids aren’t the only ones influencing the multifamily residential design field. With many companies maintaining work-from-home or hybrid working cultures, amenity spaces for adults have shifted to include more spaces for focused work, co-working, and video meetings. Some examples of these spaces can be seen at SR/A’s Solaire 8250, a Washington Property Company [association] building.
These adult workspaces show a mix of private, more sheltered workspaces and more public co-working spaces, as well as a mix between casual lounge spaces perfect for checking emails or more informal work, to structured spaces like desks and tables for computer work. In our future projects, we are looking forward to incorporating co-working booths and even computer monitors which allow residents (adults and children alike) to simply plugin and create a dual-monitor system for optimal efficiency. Spaces designed for kids require the same amount of flexibility and personalization, something we at SR/A excel in.
Whether a building has a designated children’s room, such as an in-building daycare and learning from a home center, or keeps children (and the young-at-heart) in mind by designing with playful touches and outdoor spaces, SR/A maintains the importance of flexible spaces and keeping residents experiences within the property at the top of our mind, as reflected in our “Humanity” core value through the pandemic and beyond.
Caroline Boyle is a Junior Designer with SR/A. She recently rejoined the firm, being a former intern, after participating in the Teach for America Corps.