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Five Boston Neighborhoods, Five Different Apartment Designs

David Bates / July 14, 2017-3:18 pm

During an interview for a recent post, I asked Eric Robinson, a principal at RODE ARCHITECTS, how their designs were influenced by the housing needs, wants, and lifestyles of the residents living in those locations. Here’s how he responded.

Could you tell me how the way people live in Mission Hill impacted the design of the 40-unit building your company is working on?

In Mission Hill, smaller units for certain or a roommate situation is driving the design process. Often, you have a split unit, where the living room is in the middle, and the bedrooms are on the sides. So, you have more of a roommate set up. We’re seeing that happening there.

What about Dorchester, where you have multiple projects?

In Dorchester, people want to see a little more space. They want more square footage because that’s the (value) expectation, “I’m going to go to Dorchester, I’m going to get a little more for my money.”

How did JP residents influence the housing make up in your JP building design?

JP’s a blend. There’s a diverse mix of people both economically and family-wise, which influenced the residence size. We’re putting in a couple of three bedrooms, a couple of twos and studios, and I think the diversity is there.

How about South Boston?

South Boston has more smaller residences. We’re doing 40-units at the Old Broadway Theater, which is trending toward the smaller units.

Designing a smaller unit makes the end pricing a little more affordable for the resident. I also think that in certain areas, like West Broadway and other locations, where its more densely populated, people are starting to transition to living in a smaller space and using more neighborhood amenities.

And, in Brighton?

The Brighton developer we are working with tends to have bigger units. His rental model is that he wants people to stay. He doesn’t want to have people come in and out every year.

Is there a current design trend we might see in all of these neighborhoods?

Developers are transitioning from commodity-based multifamily designs to using design as a marketing tool to set themselves apart from their competition. In other words, design is becoming a value-add from both an aesthetic point of view and from a marketing perspective.

 (The answers in this post were edited for length and clarity)

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