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Designing and specifying for multifamily in 2022

According to economists from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) new multifamily apartment production is expected to post modest gains in 2022, up 5 percent to 365,000 units. In other words, the market will continue to grow and with that growth, new trends will inevitably appear in what renters or buyers want in their multifamily homes, whether that’s a duplex, townhome, mixed-use city tower, or an apartment complex in the suburbs.

As a specifier or designer, you can help guide the conversation with your developer on what their buyers/renters want, from more security, modern tech amenities, and products that are attractive but won’t compromise your design.

Here are four multifamily trends we see that could drive what you are specifying in 2022 and beyond.

Outdoor amenities will continue to reign

COVID has had a deep impact on the rise of spending more time outdoors, whether that’s using a multifamily community’s trails to go for walks, enjoying the playground with children, or having an area on the property for tenants to grow their own food in the community garden. Outdoor “living rooms,” such as hammock parks, dog park equipment, firepits, and poolside lounges will continue to be more popular than ever.

These outdoor amenities all have one thing in common, too:  secured spaces. Personal safety has always been a top priority for multifamily residents and with Ultra-tec® cable railing hardware you can provide security that also meets design demands.  To take your design to the next level while meeting the project’s design aesthetics —and even more importantly—meeting code Ultra-tec offers cable, fittings, and hardware. Fitting types include exposed for a more industrial look to concealed for a sleek and clean appearance.

New tech in lobbies

Just a few years ago, most multifamily lobbies were spartan—mailboxes, maybe a reception desk, secure front door, and that was about it. Nowadays, developers who want to stay competitive are offering more amenities in their lobbies. In more urban, city properties, specify for spaces that allow for online shopping delivery, like Amazon lockers so tenants can have their packages safely stored and not piled up in the lobby’s corner. Another amenity gaining popularity is fridge “lockers.”  With the increase of online grocery shopping using apps like Instacart, tenants need their perishable groceries stored if they aren’t home to accept delivery. These are simple but attractive amenities to offer tenants.

Amazon Locker

According to Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2021, an annual report from the Urban Land Institute and PwC US, 82 percent of real estate professionals surveyed indicated that health and well-being will become more important across all sectors of real estate, and will result in projects that feature improved HVAC infrastructure and advanced technologies, such as sensors and touchless entry options to mitigate potential contamination.

For multifamily projects, this also translates into lobbies that offer more space, increased circulation, and fresh air. Beyond tech, safety will be communicated through more security, including fencing and railing products that complement the building’s design. And don’t forget about green amenities. Many multifamily lobbies are incorporating biophilic design— introducing elements of nature into a building’s architecture and design— from simple hanging houseplants to massive green walls.  Plants in a lobby not only look attractive, they also have real benefits such as encouraging the connection between people and nature while promoting wellness.

Co-working spaces on the rise

One trend apparently not going away soon (will it ever?) is employers offering workers the ability to work from home or work remotely. This presents a golden opportunity for developers (and for those specifying and designing) to provide a popular amenity: at-home workspaces. Indeed, many lobbies in older properties have been retrofitted by asset managers to offer more space in lobbies for work as well as new spaces designed with the look and feel of hip co-working spaces.  One noticeable difference in our post-COVID world will be private, individual workstations, more space between desks, and of course dependable, high-speed internet in lobbies.

Parting thoughts: Security ties it all in

Yes, COVID is helping multifamily amenities evolve quicker than usual (but, let’s face it, the amenities above would have emerged eventually) and developers will be looking for new ideas and options to keep their properties fresh and attractive.  Amenities aside, as always, tenants, whether that’s in a city core or in a submarket will always want security, safety, and well-being.

Interested in learning how Ultra-tec® can be used in your next multifamily project?  We offer numerous resources for architects interested in specifying and using Ultra-tec® including CEU courses, CSI Specifications, and CAD drawings. Get in touch today if you have any questions.

History of Bronze Metal

Bronze has a long history of use and is one of the oldest tin alloys dating as far back as 4500BC. It took the place of stone tools, marking the start of the Bronze Age. Bronze was used for weapon making, ornaments, and fittings because it was easy to cast and mold into shapes. As time passed, the most popular use was in bronze statues.

The oldest known bronze statue is the Dancing Girl Bronze Statuette from around 2500BC. Other well-known bronze statues and sculptures include The Thinker by Rodin and Bronco Buster and The Spirit of Detroit by Frederic Remington. The Statue of Unity is the largest statue built out of bronze (eight million pounds) created to honor ‘Iron Man of India’ by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Bronze is not only used for statues and sculptures. 

Olympic bronze metals made their debut at the 1904 St. Louis, Missouri summer games used for the first time as the third-place award in sporting competitions. Modern-day use of bronze has grown use in small electric motors (springs, bushing bearings, and car gearbox bearings), ship propellers, musical instruments, and more.

Bronze is made of 85-95% copper and other metals, and the most common is tin. Considered a red metal, it can bring a rich aesthetic to architectural design. A luxurious material, bronze can carry a higher cost yet will stand the test of time because it is corrosion and weather-resistant, and highly durable.

Bronze in architecture and design

In architecture and design, bronze is used in various applications, including some stunning interior and exterior applications. Consistently used in interior design for a warm and glamorous look and feel, bronze is featured on high-profile exterior applications.

The recently completed Northeastern University’s six-story Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex featured curved bronze fins on the exterior façade. Bronze is on Brooklyn’s first 74-story supertall skyscraper. It took its design nod from the Dime Saving Bank at the base of the building with its opulent interior and exterior, with bronze accents, designed to resemble a neo-classical temple.

bronze metal
Photo by Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash

Five years ago, Architectural Digest featured a how-to decorate with bronze in a winning fashion, and Sherwin Williams awarded bronze — Urbane Bronze — like the color of the year for 2021 to “tap into nature with a hue whose warm and comfortable breath down-to-earth tranquility.” Something we were all yearning for after a worldwide lockdown. It’s safe to say that bronze will continue to make its mark in architecture and design in various applications.

Bronze offers a warm, rich, and upgraded look compared to tother "cooler" metals, so we typically reserve it for the "front of house" area," said Liang Wu, senior associate and LEED AP at Kirksey Architecture in Houston.

Liang recalled his first extensive use of bronze on a project in 2014-2015, and he is still using it today in an active project. “We typically dress up elevator door frames, all doors and millwork hardware, light fixtures, and furniture accents using a bronze look in the front of the house,” Wu added.

Phosphor Bronze

According to the Copper Development Association, the addition of phosphorous — from 0.01 to 0.35% — increases the corrosion resistance and strength of bronze. In addition, it offers spring-like qualities, a high fatigue resistance, strength, and high wear resistance.

Phosphor bronze is used most in electrical components because of its great electrical conductivity. It is also applied where its other properties are ideal, including fasteners, springs, fuse clips, cable railing, and fittings.

Make a statement with bronze cable railing

Phosphor bronze cable offers a contemporary color option for design projects looking for an alternative to the traditional stainless-steel cable options. Ultra-tec recently introduced its new phosphor bronze cable railing and fitting line, a first of its kind.

The phosphor bronze cable railing is available in 1/8-inch diameter, in 1 x 19 strand cable. It is engineered to hold static loads without stretching, is relatively stiff, and is corrosion-resistant. Concealed receivers with beveled washers are also available for a seamless and modern design.

Ultra-tec’s phosphor bronze cable railing is a 2021 Architizer A+Product Awards Finalist in the New Materials category. Recognized as one of the world’s best products is a true testament to product viability.

The Future of Bronze

Warm metals like bronze will continue to be popular with designers well into 2022 and beyond. Bronze pairs well with marble, glass, and other metals colors like black. “We try not to mix cooler metal — such as stainless steel or aluminum — with bronze, but mixing bronze and black is acceptable,” said Wu. “We typically use bronze along with wood and marble (or porcelain with a stone look), and bronze is more of an accent even when we use larger sheets of it,” he added.

Asked if Wu would use bronze cable railings in a project, “I would consider using bronze cables, probably more towards a decorative fashion.”

Check out Ultra-tec’s new phosphor bronze cable and fitting for your next project.

bronze cable railing

The Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy sits on the old Voelcker Dairy Farm in north-central San Antonio. The 330-acre natural park is well-known as an urban oasis featuring a nature center, outdoor classrooms, dog parks, play and workout areas, walking, hiking, biking trails, and a managed wildlife habitat. 

A masterplan community called Churchill Estates with moderately priced homes sits adjacent to the park. The property owner’s house was built on a bluff overlooking the park and is not included in the neighborhood homeowner association.

 

The current homeowner spotted a Texas Railing Systems truck at a Home Depot parking lot in Kerrville, about an hour northwest of San Antonio. “He took a picture of our truck door, and two years later, he called for us to provide the railing for his home,” said Wayne Uecker, owner of Texas Railing Systems. 

The Texas Railing Systems crew also completed a tree top skywalk in Hardberger Park as part of a 150-foot land bridge for wildlife crossing over Wurzbach Parkway, connecting the two halves of the original dairy farm land.  

Uecker uses CR Laurence as the framework and Ultra-tec Invisiware® as part of their in-house product designs on most projects. His team installed both for this project. “The ease of use is great because it’s incorporated into our standard fabrications, and we understand the Invisiware system,” said Uecker.

Texas Railing Systems is a leading architectural, contemporary railing specialty company with more than one thousand projects throughout the Texas with long-standing commercial, residential, and manufacturing relationships, including their long-time supplier, Cable Art.    

Much of the country’s workforce is transitioning back to office spaces after more than a year of working from home, and workers’ expectations have changed. In response, business and commercial property owners, designers, and architects are now modifying their approach to better accommodate the preferences of their staff and tenants.

Even well-respected brands like Steelcase are acting on recent studies explaining the shifting outlook of employees. They’re now reimagining their offerings to ensure that companies create spaces where their staff can feel most comfortable and productive.

Here, we’re sharing four office trends that you’ll want to consider.

The Rise of Resimercial

According to the experts at Wayfair, Resimercial workplace design is here to stay. Employees expect a comfortable place to spend their workdays; for employers, creating these hospitable – even fun – spaces help to ensure happy, more engaged workers.

Millennials and Gen Z, now most of the nation’s work population, are leading with a “work any time, any place” mindset and want a workspace they can feel at home. Typical Resimercial contains breakout spaces with a style that involves a mix of textures and silhouettes, house plants, comfortable seating, durable upholstery, and natural fibers.

A Room with a View

Gone are (or should be) the days of working in an office made of four solid walls. Creating additional outdoor spaces, bringing the outside-in by integrating biophilic elements, or emphasizing daylighting by implementing walls made of windows, has the power to transform the work setting by reducing stress and enhancing the mood.

While windows certainly play a central role in helping to lighten up an environment, there are other ways to reimagine a conventional office space, create open areas and improve line of sight. Get inspired by checking out how Ultra-Tec cable railing was used to bring both an aesthetic design and an open, up-to-date feel to office and commercial spaces

Add Texture: Combine the Old with the New 

Incorporating various textures and textiles in the design or accessorizing of an office can add life and a sense of interest to a space. According to Parterre, blending old and new elements – including a mix of different metal finishes – can create an alternative style that delivers a warm feeling to what may have traditionally been a run-of-the-mill atmosphere.

Ultra-tec’s mix of finishes and accessories (including bronze) pair beautifully with wood, stone, and other natural materials that offer a diverse range of design options.

Opt for Sustainability 

The choices you make when planning your space matter to your team. According to Allwork and a survey by Fast Company, sustainability is an important criterion for today’s workforce. The cable railing from Ultra-Tec is environmentally friendly, there is little waste in the product, and it is 65% recyclable. Selecting alternatives that support the environment demonstrates to employees that you’re a company that cares.

Are you considering simple ways to update your commercial building designs in response to these workplace shifts? Contact us to see how our solutions can simplify and enhance your projects. 

Sustainability in building materials

In today’s environment, building a sustainable structure is no longer a nice to have; it is a basic need. Sustainability is measured through various rating systems subscribed to by architects, designers, building owners, and benefiting occupants and the environment. While there are several green building rating systems, the industry most widely used is the LEED® green building program (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design™) program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council® (USGBC®).
USGBC-LEED

The LEED rating system offers tools to measure a buildings’ performance. Credits are acquired to achieve points toward a level of building certification: certified (40-49), silver (50-59), gold (60-79), and platinum (80+).

Materials and Resources Credit

Most building materials, like stainless steel cables and fittings, fall within the Materials and Resources credit. Materials are measured based on where they come from and their makeup and disposal. LEED gives points for green, renewable, recycled, and natural materials specified in a building.

Stainless Steel Bridge

It’s important to note that virtually all new stainless steel materials contain post-consumer content, defined as waste material that is no longer usable for its intended purpose.

Ultra-tec® cable railing products are made of recycled materials, helping our customers qualify for LEED credits in:

  • LEED for New Construction – Material & Resources Credit 4.1 and 4.2
  • LEED for Commercial Interior – Material & Resources Credit 4.1 and 4.2
  • LEED for Schools – Material & Resources Credit 4.1 and 4.2

All stainless-steel products produced and supplied by Ultra-tec in our U.S. facility contain a minimum pre-consumer and post-consumer recycled content of 65 percent, with a minimum post-consumer recycled content of 25 percent. All other steel products produced and supplied by Ultra-tec contain a minimum post-consumer recycled content of 25 percent.

Stainless steel is recyclable, durable and economical

Stainless steel is one of the most environmentally friendly metals used in construction. If chosen correctly, stainless steel will last the life of the project. Ninety-two percent of the stainless steel used in architecture, building, and construction applications is recaptured and recycled to produce more steel products at the end-of-life.

Along with its corrosion-resistant properties, stainless steel is highly durable. Stainless steel is composed of corrosion-resistant alloys, offering a long life and an attractive lifecycle cost-benefit versus low-cost alternative materials.

Stainless steel has been used in a variety of interior and exterior building applications contributing to LEED points for the service life of more than 50-years, making it an ideal material to specify for the long-term. 

What is stainless steel?

Stainless steel is from the iron-based alloy family. It contains, on average, 12 percent chromium, which is the chemical element that produces an anti-corrosive, invisible thin layer of oxide, better known as the passive layer, and is the protective property. A corrosion-resistant layer naturally forms when chromium reacts with sufficient oxygen (via air and water). If this layer is damaged or removed during fabrication or polishing, it will self-repair immediately as long as the surface is clean. Although more resistant to corrosion than other carbon and alloy steels, stainless steel describes the metal’s rust-resistant properties. However, it does not mean it is entirely stain-resistant in certain conditions. So, it is essential to follow a preventative maintenance program to keep the desired look.

Corrosive environments

The most common situations —those that contain salts — such as swimming pools and ocean, seawater and ice melting agents, will actively attack stainless steel. Heat and humidity also increase the corrosive activity of chlorine and bromine salts.

Other chemical reactions that may cause deterioration include carbon picked up from bending or fabricating tools, finishing equipment, or steel covered workbenches. The fumes from the muriatic acid solution used by contractors or masons on masonry can attack stainless steel.

When considering the material’s mechanical finish —satin or mirror—corrosion-causing agents will collect within the fine lines of a satin finish instead of a smooth surface of a mirror finish.

There are varying levels and types of corrosion, and it is advisable to seek additional technical reading on the subject if corrosion is a concern.

Preventative maintenance

Stainless Steel and Corrosive Environments products

Keep your stainless-steel cable railing looking as new as the day of installation with regularly scheduled maintenance and cleaning. Remove any noticeable discoloration and stains using a two-part method designed to clean and protect. We recommend E-Z Clean, a high-performance formula that is easy to apply and is long-lasting.

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