Exploring Artist Ellison Keomaka’s Soulful Journey

At Optima® communities, we believe in fostering a vibrant culture that encourages creativity and engagement. It is with great pleasure that we highlight the diverse talents within our communities, especially when it comes to special events that bring everyone together. Recently, we had the unique opportunity to host an extraordinary exhibition with Ellison Keomaka, a celebrated local artist and the hand behind the commissioned installations across Optima® buildings.

Tell us a little bit about the exhibition idea with it. Was it who organized it? Did you make original work for the exhibition or was it more of a curation of existing  paintings? Was there a theme?
At the end of 2023, some life events shifted my perspective. I had an overwhelming sense of clarity about what I wanted to create next — paintings for myself. Telling the story of the warrior spirit and the beauty of life through flowers began at the start of the year. The next 60 days held surprising discoveries for me that became the body of work titled “Hanakotoba.”

Ellison Keomaka Exhibition Text
Exhibition narrative

For the first time in my career, I created a body of work that wasn’t based on commissions or the collector’s aesthetic. These were stories that meant something to me personally. Celebrating life’s gifts and our impermanence, these paintings connect with the viewer, as well.

I chose the show title “Hanakotoba,” which translates to “flower words” in Japanese, as the visual palette to tell the stories of my life. Through the use of floral patterns, colors, and textures, I was able to express moments and people that have impacted me greatly.

The collection was diverse yet cohesive, with stories represented in many different forms and colors. In just 60 days, 38 paintings and 1 sculpture came together to become the exhibition.

Scene from the exhibition opening
Scene from the exhibition opening

Can you describe the physical setting for the exhibition?
I paid special attention to the physical setting for the exhibition and chose the Residents’ Lounge at 7190 Optima Kierland®. The space is open and airy, which made it a perfect venue for the paintings. The exhibit was curated with the architecture in mind, focusing on every detail, including the custom fabricated easels for intentional and refined presentation of the work.

The stands made the paintings appear as though they were floating in space, which contributed to the sensation of being in a lush garden. Additionally, I installed panels with texts that shared personal quotes and the stories behind the works. The storytelling aspect made the show unique.

To transform the space for residents, I created an entry point with two large banners to offer a sense of arrival to the show.

How did the people attending engage with the work?
The event took place from 6:00 to 9:00 pm and attracted more than 200 people. Half of the attendees were Optima Kierland® residents, while the rest were collectors of my work and close friends.

As I walked through the show, I was moved by the overwhelming response of appreciation for the artwork. I was touched by the presence of many people who have been instrumental in my career success and those who are close friends. The artwork resonated with the attendees, and many of the pieces found new homes with their stories and intentions.

The show also featured curated music for the event, which a close friend created and performed live. It was the final piece that brought the show together and created an unforgettable experience.

Ellison working in his studio
Ellison working in his studio

What was most meaningful to you about the exhibition?
Creating work that is bold, takes risks, and shares my values was a challenging experience. Although the behind the scenes of the show was not visible, the process behind it was a battle, both internally and externally. Each painting had to be perfect due to the tight timeline, and striking the right balance between creative expression and excellence was a delicate dance. Bringing together all the elements to create a seamless and engaging experience was also challenging, but it all coalesced thanks to the help of some amazing people.

Despite the challenges, there was a beauty to the process that I found only by persevering and courageously moving forward.

So what’s next?
The show marks a new beginning and a transformation in my work. The process and the way I create have once again evolved. I am excited for this new chapter of expression in my work.

There are several amazing upcoming projects that include the new Optima McDowell Mountain™. The buildings will feature brand new styles of work using inspirations from the surrounding nature. There will also be limited edition releases of work from the show and some exciting new exhibits to be announced. I am just grateful for each opportunity I’m given to create.


Exploring the Health Benefits of Pilates: A Journey Towards a Stronger Self

At Optima®, we’re committed to nurturing aesthetically pleasing living spaces along with holistic lifestyles that elevate the well-being of our residents. Central to this philosophy is the incorporation of fitness modalities that cater to both body and mind. Pilates, a form of exercise that has gained widespread popularity for its myriad health benefits, is a perfect embodiment of this holistic approach to wellness. Let’s delve into the health benefits of Pilates and understand why it’s become a staple in our fitness offerings.

Pilates, developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, is a low-impact exercise technique designed to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility. The practice focuses on precise movements originating from the core, offering an integrated workout that not only tones the body but also enhances mental awareness.

Core Strength and Stability
One of the foundational pillars of Pilates is its emphasis on core strength. Regular Pilates practice fortifies the muscles of the abdomen, lower back, hips, and pelvis, leading to improved stability and balance. This core-centric approach not only enhances athletic performance but also mitigates the risk of injuries by supporting the spine, making everyday movements safer and more efficient.

Pilates_Optima Verdana
Pilates reformers in the fitness center at Optima Verdana®

Enhanced Flexibility
Unlike some forms of exercise that prioritize muscle strength at the expense of flexibility, Pilates promotes an equal emphasis on both. Through controlled stretches and movements, Pilates gradually increases the length of the muscles and the range of motion within the joints. This balanced approach to strength and flexibility is crucial for reducing the risk of injuries and maintaining the body’s overall agility and youthfulness.

Mind-Body Connection
Pilates is as much a workout for the mind as it is for the body. The practice demands concentration, focus, and precision—qualities that encourage practitioners to remain present and mindful throughout their workout. This mindfulness fosters a deeper connection between mind and body, enhancing proprioception (the sense of the body’s position in space) and contributing to a state of mental clarity and relaxation.

Improved Postural Alignment
The modern lifestyle, often characterized by prolonged periods of sitting, can lead to detrimental postural habits. Pilates addresses this issue head-on by emphasizing alignment, breathing, and efficient movement patterns. Regular practice helps to correct postural imbalances, ensuring that the spine is aligned, and the body posture is optimized for both aesthetics and health.

Low Impact, High Efficacy
Pilates is accessible to individuals of all fitness levels, including those recovering from injuries or suffering from chronic pain. The exercises can be modified to meet the needs of each practitioner, offering a safe yet effective workout. This adaptability makes Pilates an inclusive practice, welcoming everyone from elite athletes to those embarking on their fitness journey.

Within the Optima® communities, Pilates serves as a pathway to a balanced and enriched life. Our state-of-the-art fitness centers are equipped to provide residents with an environment where they can explore the full range of Pilates benefits, supported by expert instruction and a community of like-minded individuals.

By integrating Pilates into our wellness offerings, we aim to empower our residents with the tools they need to lead vibrant, healthy lives. Whether it’s improving physical strength, enhancing mental well-being, or simply enjoying the social aspects of group classes, Pilates offers something for everyone.

As we continue to prioritize wellness in all its forms, Pilates stands out as a key component of our holistic approach to living well. We invite our residents to discover its transformative power, embracing the practice as a means to strengthen bodies,minds, and an overall sense of well-being.

Optima® Voices: Interview with Emily Etland, Chicago Regional Manager at Optima®

Optima® Voices: Conversations with Our Property Teams is a series that brings you closer to the individuals who make our communities thrive. Through these interviews, we’re shedding light on the dedicated staff behind the seamless operation of Optima®’s properties, highlighting their passion, experiences, and the personal touches they bring to enhancing the living experience for residents. Join us as we explore the stories of those who deliver — day in and day out — the quality of living that makes Optima communities extraordinary. Today, we’re talking with Emily Etland, Chicago Regional Manager at Optima®.

Tell us a bit about your background and the role you play at Optima®.
I have been in property management for about 20 years.  I started in leasing and have worked in many different roles, at many different property types.  Most of my life was spent in New Orleans, and I moved to Chicago about 4 years ago.  While I’ve spent the last few years in the fee management side of property management, I was excited to join Optima® to work directly for a company that is fully involved with each of their assets from the start.  While each of my days at Optima® is different, my role as Regional Property Manager involves overseeing our 3 Chicago area properties — Optima Signature®, Optima Lakeview®, and Optima Verdana® — and their daily operations.  This can range from their financial performance, to staff performance, to building operations and so much more.  I also act as the conduit between our site and executive teams, ensuring our site teams always have a voice.

How did you begin your journey at Optima®?
I actually began my journey at Optima only seven months ago.  While I wasn’t really on a job hunt, a recruiter reached out to me about the position and piqued my interest and we spoke a bit.  After that, I had an in-person meeting with our Director of Operations, Jamie Springer, and learned what she feels makes Optima® unique.  I then had a chance to meet with two of our SVPs and the rest is history!

What drew you to Optima® initially?
When I first moved to Chicago, I took a position as Property Manager. With being new to the city, I wanted to get to know the market by being on-site and working directly with a single team. As I grew to know Chicago, I wanted to return to a regional role that I had played in New Orleans. The opportunity at Optima presented an exciting opportunity for me to not only oversee a group of communities, but to work for a company that is vertically aligned. So today, I’m part of a team where everyone works from start to finish to ensure a project is always developed and maintained to a high standard.

Optima® has a unique set of values that differentiates it from other company cultures. How does that affect the quality of your work life? What values matter most to you?
I think Optima®’s values serve as a solid anchor in some of the tougher situations that we face.  I can’t count how many times we’ll be struggling through a problem and someone will quote one of our values as a way forward, like “there is a solution to every problem” or “do the right thing even when it’s hard.”  And while we often share a laugh afterwards, the fact that we’ve all internalized these values is so powerful, and personally gives me the conviction to stop and adjust my attitude and approach to overcome doubt or a sense of defeat.

Of all the Optima® values, my favorite is “be bold.” It pairs with each of the other values…and amplifies them.  Or stands all on its own.  And it perfectly captures everything I do each day.

How do you view the concept of community at Optima®? How does it differ from other property management companies you’ve worked with?
It’s interesting, every property management company I’ve worked for has done events and strived to create a unique brand for each community, while aligning with the larger management brand.  What is different about Optima® is as soon as you walk into one of our buildings, you know you’re in an Optima® designed space because of the extraordinary modern design. But how do you know you’re in an Optima® community?  That’s all in the people.  As a team, we are completely focused on making sure our residents feel at home. As a result, our relationships begin long before our residents move in, when we reach out to conduct “getting to know you” calls to discover their interests, so we can be ready to provide them with the best experience possible from Day One. Because of these early connections, we’re able to curate events that cater to residents’ priorities, and help organize the clubs that reflect what people care about — book clubs, mahjong, pickleball, game nights and so on.  Living in an Optima® building is being part of a community, a place that feels like home.  Building strong, lasting relationships is at the core of what we do, and a staple in how we build community for our residents.

What are some things you’re learning since joining Optima®?
Since joining Optima®, I’ve been so impressed with just how much architecture can lead even the day-to-day operations of the property management side of the business. From terms we use to highlight things on a tour, to how we hang art in our models — so much detail!

What makes you most proud to be a part of the Optima® team?
I’m proud to be part of a team that wants to grow based on things we’re learning, and responding to areas that need improvement. Things at Optima® move fast (speed and detail set us apart), but it’s because we’re constantly evolving so that we’re able to execute things at the highest level possible.  We never want to settle for a mediocre result, we want to provide the best to our residents and our team.

Optima® Voices: Interview with Tracy Ratdavong, Assistant Property Manager at Optima Verdana®

Optima® Voices: Conversations with Our Property Teams is a series that brings you closer to the individuals who make our communities thrive. Through these interviews, we’re shedding light on the dedicated staff behind the seamless operation of Optima’s properties, highlighting their passion, experiences, and the personal touches they bring to enhancing the living experience for residents. Join us as we explore the stories of those who deliver — day in and day out — the quality of living that makes Optima communities extraordinary. Today, we’re talking with Tracy Ratdavong, Assistant Property Manager at Optima Verdana®.

Tell us a bit about your background and the role you play at Optima Verdana.
I started in leasing and property management in Michigan very early in my professional career with a goal of moving to Chicago. In order to make this geographic move, I spent a few years in sales and technical recruiting. In one of my placements, I was recruiting candidates for a property management position and stayed connected with the individual who was eventually hired. I stayed in touch with her — only to find that she later recruited me for an assistant property manager role!

I feel like everything in my professional background has happened for a reason, including giving me the skills I need to manage lease-up and retain residents, provide great customer service, form lasting relationships, and build a strong team.

How did you begin your journey at Optima Verdana?
Prior to Optima Verdana, I assisted in managing two buildings that gave me exposure to the Illinois market. I heard great things about Optima and when I saw an opening, I immediately applied for the position. From the first meeting with the team, I felt an instant connection, which sparked my interest in working for such a great company. Every conversation I had during the interview process felt genuine and everyone on the team expressed how Optima cares equally for their residents and for their employees. I joined the team in May 2023 when Optima Verdana® opened to the public. Since then, I have been a part of the journey with the development and completion of this beautiful community, as we welcomed our first residents in August and completed construction in November.

What drew you to Optima Verdana initially?
I was really drawn to the Optima Verdana team from our very first conversation.  Everyone was so welcoming and had nothing but great things to say. They made me feel like they were truly happy in their roles and that made me excited to have a chance to be a part of that team.  I also really loved the fact that all our design, development, and management is all in-house. This really made me feel like I was going to have a real voice in managing this new community and that my ideas could help contribute to the success of our new building.

How do you view the concept of community at Optima Verdana? How does it differ from other properties/buildings?
To me when I hear community, I think of togetherness — and at Optima Verdana, it truly feels like everyone is family. We have residents who meet up throughout the week for pickleball and on the Sky Deck just to enjoy each other’s company. And because so many of our residents have been with us since the very beginning, they love coming by our office, excited to share great news about their lives. This is unlike anywhere I have ever worked or lived. We strive to provide the best service to our residents and give them not only a home, but a lifestyle catered to their individual needs. At Optima Verdana, we are a true community, and our team and residents work together to create an inviting environment that feels like home.

Optima® has a unique set of values that differentiates it from other company cultures. How does that affect the quality of your work life? What values matter most to you?
Building strong lasting relationships has always been important to me and with Optima, everyone applies this together as a team and with our residents.

The support I have gotten from my team and management has helped me grow in so many ways. Everyone wants to help each other succeed and this value flows every day into the Optima culture. I believe you are who you surround yourself with and here at Optima, across all the various properties and corporate offices, we are an incredibly strong team, and we inspire each other.

What are some things you’re learning since joining the Optima Verdana team?
By being connected with our entire team, I have learned so much from every group. Starting from my early days at Optima, I was part of the construction meetings. I learned about the development and overall project management, which has helped me understand Optima Verdana in much greater depth. It has given me more knowledge so I can speak with current and future residents with more confidence and detail. Since welcoming our first residents, I have learned something new every day. I routinely work with our marketing, accounting, and asset management teams, which has pushed me out of my comfort zone to undertake new challenges. This has been rewarding in so many ways and I continue to open my mind to the endless possibilities at Optima.

What makes you most proud to be a part of the Optima Verdana team?
I am most proud to represent a team that strives to give the best and be the best. Everyone cares and encourages each other. Optima has built an incredible reputation and continues to stand out in terms of architectural design, concern for sustainability, attracting and retaining exceptional professionals, and providing a great place to work. I take pride in saying I work for such an amazing company!


Inside Optima®: Resident Stories, Interview with Jen Dole, Pickleball League Member at Optima Lakeview®

Welcome to Inside Optima®: Resident Stories, a series that takes you behind the scenes of life in Optima’s dynamic communities. Through intimate conversations with our residents, we’re exploring the diverse experiences, unique lifestyles, and vibrant cultures that flourish within Optima’s architecturally stunning buildings. Join us as we discover what makes living in an Optima community not just a choice of residence, but a way of life. In this conversation, we sat down with Jen Dole, resident and Pickleball League member at Optima Lakeview®.

How long have you been a resident at Optima Lakeview? What drew you there?

I moved to Chicago from Sacramento in November 2022 to be close to my youngest son who lives here — he dances with the Joffrey Ballet. And because I work remotely, I can live anywhere, so I chose Chicago as my new home. I had visited the city many times and was specifically looking for a place where I would find a sense of community, and the opportunity to get to know new people. What attracted me to Optima Lakeview® were all the events, the beautiful architecture and fantastic amenity spaces…including the pickleball court. That was a huge plus for me because I was an avid pickleball player in California and knowing I could play in my own building was incredibly appealing.

Can you tell us how the informal “Pickleball League” at Optima Lakeview came to be?

Since I didn’t know anybody when I moved to Optima Lakeview, I started by recruiting other people who might want to play. I did this by talking to residents who were using the court, and meeting people at building events like Wine Wednesday and gatherings for pet people. I met people who hadn’t played but were interested, and I started holding informal sessions on Sunday mornings. I would teach the basics and we would play. It’s such a social sport and everyone enjoyed getting to know one another, and getting exercise at the same time!

So our Pickleball League started organically. We formed a group on the Optima Lakeview app, and that brought in more people. And then, because we needed the ability to talk together more dynamically, we started a text group, which we recently moved to WhatsApp so we can accommodate both iPhone and Android users.

As more people got interested, Maike, the property manager, sponsored a training session onsite with a local organization called Toss and Spin. This sparked a ton of new interest and from there, we organized a tournament. It was so much fun! And because everyone enjoyed it so much, we’re having another one this month.

Intense tournament play on the beautiful indoor Optima court.
Intense tournament play on the beautiful indoor Optima pickleball court.

What does a typical gathering look like for your group, and how often do you meet?

Besides the tournaments, people simply schedule their time on the court through the Optima Lakeview app. In a good week, I play three or four times. Sometimes it’s a kind of “grab and go” game because we’ve all got other things to do, and sometimes we have time to stay around and chat or have a coffee. I also have a great group of women friends that I’ve met from an intermediate pickleball training I did at the local Y, and I invite them to play here once or twice a month. They love the facilities, especially during the winter when it’s challenging to find great indoor pickleball courts.

There are a number of us in the Pickleball League that take advantage of the outdoor courts in local parks. A few residents have their own nets, and we just set them up on the tennis courts. I love that we can still play together and enjoy being outside in a beautiful park setting.

How has being a part of the “Pickleball League” enhanced your experience as a resident of Optima Lakeview?
Today, I have a fantastic group of friends because of the Pickleball League. We go to dinner together. I’ve organized outings to see the Joffrey perform. The daughter of one of my friends recently watched my dog when I was out of town. We do each other favors. And we get to enjoy the camaraderie of pickleball and staying fit together. It is so lovely.

How does an Optima Lakeview resident get involved, and are there skill level requirements or open play for beginners?

The atmosphere of the Pickleball League is very relaxed and open, so any newcomer is welcome. The rules can be a little wonky at first and there is some fun terminology, but It’s very easy to learn, and a lot of former tennis players now play pickleball because you don’t have to be as athletic to enjoy the game and to excel. All of us in the League go out of our way to invite other residents in the building, and we love watching our ranks grow by the week!

Optima® Voices: Conversation with Aleks Milic, Leasing Manager at Optima Kierland Apartments®

Optima® Voices: Conversations with Our Property Teams” is a series that brings you closer to the individuals who make our communities thrive. Through these interviews, we’re shedding light on the dedicated staff behind the seamless operation of Optima®’s properties, highlighting their passion, experiences, and the personal touches they bring to enhancing the living experience for residents. Join us as we explore the stories of those who deliver — day in and day out — the quality of living that makes Optima communities extraordinary. Today, we’re talking with Aleks Milic, Leasing Manager at Optima Kierland Apartments®.

Tell us a bit about your background and the role you play at Optima Kierland®.
I arrived in the US from Switzerland in 2018, and I have accumulated four years of experience in Property Management. My primary responsibility here at Optima Kierland® is to ensure that all of our towers are occupied at 93%. Additionally, I lead a leasing team of three, overseeing the “sales” aspect of our property management operations.

How did you begin your journey at Optima Kierland®?
I wasn’t actively seeking another job opportunity, but when Megan from People Experience reached out to me via LinkedIn, I couldn’t resist listening to what Optima® had to offer. Approaching my fourth year in Arizona, everyone is aware that Optima® is a unique community known for providing exceptional customer service and offering an array of amazing amenities.

What drew you to Optima Kierland® initially?
Following my interviews, I gained a deeper understanding of what Optima® aims to deliver to our residents. Optima® initially attracted me with its exceptional design. From the overall aesthetic to the quality of customer service, it resonates with the comforts of home. This is the first community where I genuinely stand behind and take pride in saying that we offer luxury apartment homes.

How do you view the concept of community at Optima Kierland®? How does it differ from other properties/buildings?
Optima Kierland® is truly its own community! We stand out significantly from our competitors. Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to work for other property management companies, and I must say that Optima® goes above and beyond for its residents. The most notable distinction lies in Optima®’s architectural standpoint; they prioritize ensuring that everything has its designated place.

Optima® has a unique set of values that differentiates it from other company cultures. How does that affect the quality of your work life? What values matter most to you?
As a team, we all contribute and are empowered to bring in new ideas. The constant drive for creation stands out to me as a core value. We are always striving for improvements, whether it’s making the move-in experience smoother, refining apartment designs, or shaping the overall community aesthetic. The openness to feedback and our commitment to making necessary improvements significantly contribute to the quality of work life. Feeling heard at Optima® plays a vital role in this ongoing cycle of enhancement.

What are some things you’re learning since joining the Optima Kierland® team?
Speaking up and being involved is encouraged, emphasizing that each team member is crucial to our success. Recognizing that success lies in the details, I’ve learned that while there are communities with fantastic amenities at lower rates, none compare to what we offer at Optima®. We don’t view residents as mere accounts paying rent; instead, we aim to build lasting relationships and genuinely care about their well-being.

What makes you most proud to be a part of the Optima Kierland® team?
I can confidently state that we have the best community in Arizona! Optima® is not just an apartment home; it’s a lifestyle, a genuine community. What makes me most proud of being a part of Optima Kierland® is our incredible team that collaborates seamlessly across departments – we are truly one united force. We are all hands-on and share a common goal of providing the best experience for our residents.

2023: Year in Review

As 2023 comes to a close, we’re taking this moment to reflect on how we’ve continued to grow, learn and serve others over the past year. Here are just a few of the highlights:


We were honored to have attended the 2023 Arizona Multihousing Association (AMA) Tribute Awards where professionals are recognized for their tremendous achievement of leaving a positive impact on both their industry and community. 

Optima Verdana Phase 2 Rendering
Optima Verdana Phase 2 Rendering

Projects and Properties

2023 was a year of growth and many exciting announcements for us at Optima. In Chicago, we finished construction and opened Optima Verdana. Residents at Optima Verdana are surrounded by experiences and spaces that delight and surprise around every corner, from our  pickleball court and fitness center to the rooftop sky deck garden lounge and a heated, glass-enclosed pool. With residents continuing to move into Optima Verdana, we’re thrilled to announce Optima Verdana Phase 2. The mixed-use development will be six stories and be home to 150 rental units in a mix of one-, two- and three bedroom layouts.

Playing pickleball at the opening of Optima Verdana
Playing pickleball at the opening of Optima Verdana

Construction was also completed on 7190 Optima Kierland, the fifth and final tower within the development. With the new tower, not only did we grow the community at Optima Kierland Apartments, but, we also welcomed Optima’s first Olympic-length pool. Following the announcement of Optima McDowell Mountain Village late last year, in 2023 we broke ground on the project. The mixed-use development will include six eight-story buildings – a mix of apartments and condominiums – 12 acres of greenspace and a 210,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system for reuse on-site. 

Optima McDowell Mountain Village Rendering
Optima McDowell Mountain Village Rendering


Throughout 2023 our culture at Optima continued to thrive through rewarding avenues of affinity and connection. We celebrated with each other at our fourth annual costume and pumpkin carving contest, observed Mardi Gras, St Patrick’s Day, International Women’s Day, Earth Day, Cinco de Mayo, Pride Month, Halloween, various other Holiday celebrations and held our annual master architect challenge. In anticipation of the 7190 Optima Kierland Apartments grand opening, we welcomed the new project with a lively BBQ on the rooftop sky deck where we shared delicious food, and following Optima Verdana’s completion, we celebrated a grand opening filled with laughs. 

The Halloween Costume Party at Optima Lakeview
The Halloween Costume Party at Optima Lakeview

We continued to embrace and internalize our shared values more than ever. We are proud to have participated in the Highland Park Strong Run, where we came together to support the Highland Park community and enjoyed a race with family and friends. 

We can’t thank our leadership, team members and Optima communities enough for making 2023 one to remember. Heading into 2024, we are excited to continue innovating and achieving great things together.

The Optima Team at the Highland Park Strong Run
The Optima Team at the Highland Park Strong Run

Inside The Newest Tower at Optima Kierland Apartments: A Closer Look at the New and Evolving Amenities With Barbie Clemons

Get ready to experience the ultimate luxury apartment living! The long-awaited completion of 7190 Optima Kierland Apartments in Scottsdale has finally arrived, and we’re thrilled to give you an exclusive look into all of its evolving amenities. We sat down with Barbie Clemons, General Manager at Optima Kierland Apartments, who shared all the details about what makes the tower’s incredible new amenities stand out from the rest:

What is the current state of the luxury amenity experience in Scottsdale? How has the definition of luxury amenities changed in recent years? 

Everybody’s spending a lot more time on amenities. You can see it in Scottsdale being a resort town; people want that resort-style living and to have everything at their fingertips. In recent years, we’ve seen buildings adding more events to their rosters, making sure that they have a gym, pools, hot tubs, etc. And then you start seeing other communities sprinkling in a cardio room and some of those more niche amenities to set them apart. For example, there’s a brand new building up the street from us that has a spa atmosphere where they’ve built a massage room and some of those spa-like amenities.

But that’s something that Optima has always done, because we’ve always gone to the next level with our amenities. This gives us the unique opportunity to always be ahead of the curve, delivering experiences and features that residents are just starting to dream about!

What are residents/potential residents at 7190 most interested in? 

At our new tower, Kierland 7190, we added a separate pickleball court. People are very excited about this addition because pickleball is such a phenomenon. In our other Kierland properties, we’ve transformed our basketball courts so residents can play basketball or pickleball. But in 7190, we now have a separate space that’s specifically for pickleball, and people are so excited about that.

They’re also excited about the Olympic-length pool on our rooftop here. It’s probably the longest pool I’ve ever seen on a rooftop, and it’s absolutely beautiful. Something else that has drawn people into our newer buildings is the rooftop track. We have a quarter-mile track that goes around the roof of our buildings, where residents can walk or jog and enjoy the views of McDowell Mountain, as well as a spa and cold plunge, and like our other buildings, lounge seating, fire pits, and an outdoor bar and kitchen. 

7190 Optima Kierland Apartments’ outdoor covered Pickleball arena

What are some of Optima Kierland 7190’s evolved amenities? 

There are so many! The rooftop track is a newer one, and the Olympic-length pool on the rooftop and pickleball court are some of the others. We also have a yoga studio that includes its own separate Pilates room. We’ve added full-blown pet spas and one of our most fun new additions, a golf experience. We also have our golf simulator and sports lounge indoors, and then outside, we have a new putting green and chipping area where residents can play on different types of terrain, which is unique.

What sets these amenities apart from other buildings in the community? 

Kierland stands apart because each of our five buildings has its own set of amenities, which is so distinctive relative to other apartment communities where the amenities are centralized and shared by all of the residential buildings. So whichever Kierland tower you choose, you’re only sharing with the intimate community you’re already familiar with. It’s really a lifestyle that we sell here, not apartment living. We’re showing residents that they can have everything at their fingertips and not have to go to a Lifetime Fitness or something like that outside of our community if they don’t want to, we’ll bring it all to them.

How are your residents responding to the amenity experience at 7190?

What we’re hearing from residents is that they are genuinely excited about the fact that they don’t have to leave the community to have an amazing quality of life. Our residents don’t have to go to cryotherapy or visit another golfing place to play on a simulator. Everything is right here within easy reach. We also have everything from huddle rooms to conference rooms, making it extremely easy for residents to work from home. We have spaces to enjoy and activities for people to play, from racquetball and pickleball to our pool, ping pong, shuffleboard, and bocce ball. I mean, there’s something for every single person in these buildings.

If residents are retiring, selling their homes, and downsizing into apartment living for the first time in 30 years, their grandkids are going to have a ton of places to go and enjoy. Additionally, new to the 7190 tower, we have implemented a 24/7 door staff so residents will have someone available 24 hours a day as part of our staff!

Scottsdale Architecture Spotlight: Hotel Valley Ho

Arizona, and particularly Scottsdale, has long been a hotspot for architectural innovation, blending the region’s natural beauty with groundbreaking design. From Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West to Paolo Soleri’s Acosanti, the state is home to a variety of remarkable structures that push the boundaries of architectural thought. One standout example is the iconic Hotel Valley Ho, a mid-century modern masterpiece nestled in the heart of Scottsdale. Today, we’re exploring the hotel’s fascinating history, stunning architectural features and commitment to preservation and sustainability. 

Nestled in the heart of Scottsdale, the Hotel Valley Ho opened its doors in 1956. The hotel was designed by Edward L. Varney, a prominent mid-century modern architect and a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the hotel sought to combine the glamor of Hollywood with the natural beauty of Arizona. Over the years, the Hotel Valley Ho has hosted numerous celebrities and undergone multiple renovations to maintain its charm and relevance. 

The Hotel Valley Ho stands as a shining example of mid-century modern architecture. Its sleek, minimalist design is characterized by clean lines, flat planes, and expansive glass walls that seamlessly integrate indoor and outdoor spaces. The hotel’s iconic cantilevered roof lines and butterfly roofs give it a futuristic appeal while providing shape and protection from the elements. 

The rooms and pool at Hotel Valley Ho. Photo: C.C. Chapman, 2011, Flickr Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 Deed

One of the most striking features of the Hotel Valley Ho is its use of materials, including concrete, steel, and native Arizona stone, which all pay homage to the state’s desert landscape. Additionally, the interior boasts vibrant colors, geometric patterns, and custom-designed furnishings that embody the essence of mid-century modern design. 

Beyond its architectural prowess, The Hotel Valley Ho offers luxurious amenities to cater to every guest’s needs. The property is home to two separate pools: The OH Pool, which features a lively atmosphere complete with a bar and cabana, and the more serene OHasis Pool, perfect for relaxation. Guests can also enjoy the award-winning VH Spa, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and exceptional dining options, including the ZuZu restaurant, which serves inventive American cuisine. The hotel’s central location provides easy access to Scottsdale’s vibrant art galleries, shopping and outdoor activities. 

Hotel Valley Ho lobby. Photo: C.C. Chapman, 2011, Flickr Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 Deed

In addition to its luxurious accommodations, the Hotel Valley Ho has demonstrated a commitment to preservation and sustainability over the years. A comprehensive restoration project in 2005 revitalized the hotel’s historic features and expanded its footprint. Modern amenities and sustainable practices, such as energy-efficient LED lighting, solar panels for heating pool water and a robust recycling program have been incorporated throughout the property. This commitment ensures that future generations can experience the magic of this mid-century modern masterpiece. 

The Hotel Valley Ho truly offers an unforgettable experience, seamlessly blending luxury, history and sustainability. Its timeless design and dedication to preserving its heritage make it a must-visit destination for architecture enthusiasts and travelers alike.

The Softline Opera Chair: A Symphony of Possibilities

As we continue to tour the public spaces at Optima® communities to highlight the curated collection of Modernist furnishings, such as the Eames chair, or tulip table, etc. We find it just as important to highlight recent advances of Modernist furniture design, propelled forward by the likes of Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, and so many other masters of design. Today we introduce you to the OPERA chair at Optima Lakeview®, by SOFTLINE.

Brief History 

SOFTLINE has been creating and producing innovatively designed furniture for a global market since 1979. The enterprise was founded as a division of K. Balling-Engelsen A/S, a Danish producer of technical polyurethane foam. For decades, this high-quality, flexible foam has been the material of choice for furniture production due to its unique properties.

In 2003, they became an independent, privately-owned enterprise with a factory in Denmark, where the upholstery is performed by hand, based on Scandinavian traditions and utilizing eco-friendly materials.

OPERA chair by Busk+Hertzog
OPERA chair by Busk+Hertzog at Optima Lakeview®


The OPERA chair designed by Busk+Herzog serves a symphony of possibilities at Optima Lakeview® in its ability to elegantly blend modern and contemporary styles. From its high armrests, to provide privacy for all matters of which you may want to hide, to its backrest and cushion that completely envelopes your body.

The OPERA can also be used as a versatile lounge chair in larger configurations, much like PLANET, or in smaller configurations like PIERCE. Both of these elegant iterations can be found together just steps away at Optima Kierland® in Scottsdale. The OPERA chair provides a human-scale sense of privacy, as well as a space for contemplation or conversation in our business center. This striking piece is the perfect place for our residents to relax in solitude without being completely separated from friends, and we’re delighted to include this iconic design to Optima’s® Modernist collection!

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Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL

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