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The Health Benefits of Strength Training

At Optima®, we’re continually exploring ways to enhance the well-being of our residents, encouraging practices that foster a healthy lifestyle. Among the myriad activities available within our communities, strength training stands out for its significant benefits, both physical and mental, contributing to a healthier, more vibrant lifestyle, aligning perfectly with our commitment to holistic living. So whether you’re a seasoned weightlifter or just starting out, there’s never been a better time to embrace the power of strength training for a healthier, happier you.

Strength training, also known as resistance training, involves exercises designed to improve muscle strength and endurance. By using weights, resistance bands, or your body weight, strength training activities work to gradually increase the resistance muscles face, promoting muscle growth and strength over time. It’s a versatile form of exercise, accessible to individuals at any fitness level, making it a staple in our state-of-the-art fitness centers across Optima® communities.

To experience the greatest physical benefits from strength training, it’s best to establish a consistent
routine, working out at least two times per week. With this regular, consistent approach, you can expect:

Increased muscle mass and strength: Regular strength training naturally leads to increased muscle mass and strength, which can significantly enhance daily life functionality. From carrying groceries to climbing stairs, stronger muscles make everyday activities easier and less taxing.

Fitness Center at Optima Lakeview®
Fitness Center at Optima Lakeview®

Enhanced bone health: Strength training is pivotal in maintaining bone density and combating osteoporosis. The pressure exerted on bones during these exercises triggers bone-forming cells, leading to stronger, denser bones.

Boosted metabolic rate: Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest compared to fat tissue. Thus, increasing muscle mass through strength training can boost your metabolic rate, aiding in weight management and reducing the risk of obesity.

Improved posture and balance: As muscles strengthen, particularly those in the core, posture and balance see noticeable improvements. This can lead to a reduction in back pain and a lower risk of falls, particularly important as we age.

Enhanced flexibility and mobility: Contrary to the myth that strength training makes one bulky and stiff, it actually improves flexibility and joint range of motion when performed correctly.

At the same time, strength training brings significant mental health benefits, including:

Stress relief: Strength training is a powerful stress-buster. The focus required during a session can serve as a form of mindfulness, diverting attention away from daily worries and reducing stress levels.

Boosted confidence and self-esteem: Achieving goals in strength training, whether lifting a heavier weight or completing more repetitions, can significantly boost confidence and self-esteem. This sense of accomplishment often transcends the gym, impacting other areas of life positively.

Improved cognitive function: Regular physical activity, including strength training, has been shown to enhance cognitive function, potentially lowering the risk of cognitive decline as we age.

At Optima®, we understand the value of community in maintaining a consistent fitness routine. Our fitness centers are spaces where residents come together, sharing goals, and supporting each other’s wellness journeys. Strength training sessions, whether individually, with a personal trainer, or in a group class, foster a sense of camaraderie and collective achievement. We’re proud to offer the facilities and the environment that encourage and support our residents in integrating strength training into their lifestyles, ensuring they reap all the benefits it has to offer. Whether you’re a seasoned weightlifter or just starting out, there’s never been a better time to embrace the power of strength training for a healthier, happier you.

 

Optima® Voices: Interview with Tanya Osman, Property Manager at Optima Signature®

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 Tanya Osman, Property Manager at Optima Signature®.

Tell us a bit about your background and the role you play at Optima Signature®.
I grew up helping my mother’s real estate business and knew this was the industry for me at a very young age. This experience provided me with a unique perspective on how to effectively navigate the challenges and opportunities within residential management. I started my own business in residential sales over 15 years ago that evolved from selling single family homes in Florida to managing luxury high rise apartment buildings in Chicago.

At Optima Signature®, I manage the day-to-day operations, handle resident relations, address maintenance issues and ensure the property’s overall well-being. My experience is rooted in a commitment to delivering excellent service and maintaining a positive living experience for residents.

How did you begin your journey at Optima Signature®?
I managed luxury communities in River North for 6 years until January of 2022, when I was presented with the opportunity to oversee Optima Signature®.  I embraced the chance to bring everything I knew to the table about operations, sales, and resident satisfaction. I was so excited to start the new journey in Streeterville (funny fact – I have not managed a building that was not on Illinois Street – in River North both building’s I managed were on West Illinois Street and at Signature I am on East Illinois Street. I like to say that I moved to Chicago to work on Illinois Street).

What drew you to Optima Signature® initially?
A significant draw for me was the captivating design of the building. The aesthetic appeal and expansive amenities were also factors. I was excited for the challenge of overseeing a larger community than those I’ve managed previously.

How do you view the concept of community at Optima Signature®? How does it differ from other properties/buildings?
The concept of community at Optima Signature® is integral to fostering a positive living experience. We create a sense of engagement among the residents through regular monthly events and personalized services. Optima®’s values help in creating a more connected and vibrant living environment compared to other buildings.

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?
Optima®’s core values place emphasis on collaboration and innovation. The shared values contribute to a harmonious work environment and allows to maintain high standards in property management. The value that matters most to me is: “There is a solution to every problem.” We are faced with unique challenges on a daily basis and working for a company that allows you to take ownership and be creative makes it fun to find solutions.

What are some things you’re learning since joining the Optima Signature® team?
Since joining the Optima Signature® team, I’ve been actively learning and adapting to the unique dynamics of the property. Everyday there is an opportunity to improve my communication and problem solving skills by learning the specific needs/preferences of our residents and overcoming new objections from both prospects and the leasing team.

What makes you most proud to be a part of the Optima Signature® team?
I am so proud to be a part of the Optima Signature® team! Our team has a collaborative spirit and is dedicated to resident satisfaction. I love coming into the office to smiling faces and hearing everyone’s ideas! We have a beautiful community and team and that makes me proud!

Discovering History Through Taste: Optima® Scottsdale Residents Dive into Culinary Heritage

As Optima®’s Scottsdale communities continue to flourish, residents are presented with an extraordinary opportunity to embark on a culinary journey that blends the best of both worlds: modern dining experiences nestled within the walls of historic homes. These establishments not only offer a glimpse into Scottsdale’s rich past but also serve as a testament to the area’s evolution into a vibrant, contemporary city.

These new dining venues are part of a trend nationwide, where local developers and chefs are transforming old homes into culinary hubs for the surrounding neighborhoods. In Phoenix, we see innovative approaches to sustainably preserve historic homes while serving the economic needs of the neighborhood.

Here are just a few of the restaurants popping up in our own backyard:

Farish House
The Farish House. Photo: Trystan Trenberth

The Farish House, standing proudly at the threshold of the 20th century and now a recognized member of the Phoenix Historic Property Register, narrates a tale of transformation through the ages. Constructed in 1899 by Howard Cassidy and later becoming the home of Phoenix’s first city manager, William A. Farish, and his wife Jane in 1901, this building has journeyed from a single-family residence to a multi-faceted space with duplexes, an art gallery, and various business offices over the years. Located in the vibrant Evans Churchill neighborhood of downtown Phoenix, The Farish House has evolved into a cozy bistro that honors its rich history with a menu of timeless classics like ratatouille, mac and cheese, and beef stew, all while sharing a landlord with the neighboring Songbird Coffee and Tea House.

House Brasserie
The House Brasserie. Photo: Sophia DuBois, Sophia DuBois Photographer

In the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, The House Brasserie invites patrons into a world where French elegance meets modern American cuisine. Operating from a residence constructed in 1939 by the pioneering Mowry family, this restaurant carries forward the legacy of Arizona’s early settlers through its innovative menu and the preserved charm of the original home. The Mowrys’ spirit of hope and hard work is echoed in the delightful dishes and the preserved rose bushes that symbolize their lasting impact on the Scottsdale community.

Garden Bar Phoenix
Garden Bar. Photo by IG: @iamchanelle

Meanwhile, Garden Bar offers a unique “garden to glass” experience from a 1914 California bungalow, blending the historical essence of downtown Phoenix with contemporary mixology.  This spot offers some classic, nostalgic and whimsical cocktails along with curated grazing boards, truffle parmesan popcorn and pretzel bites.  They also have a Bespoke Cocktail Experience that ties mini cocktails into the history of the house, during WWI & II, including the Kilroy Was Here … a cocktail created after the Kilroy family that lived in the house from the 1940’s – 1960’s.  Guests can eat and drink in any of the cozy, decorated rooms, back patio or in rocking chairs on the dog-friendly front porch.

Located in a historic building in downtown Phoenix’s Heritage Square, the Diaspora Collective is a vibrant beacon within the community, inviting all to immerse in the celebration of culture and the rich tapestry of African diaspora history. More than just a space, it’s a dynamic hub where visitors connect, sharing and shaping stories of Africa and its widespread descendants. Within its embrace, Soko presents a market brimming with an exquisite array of goods crafted by Black artisans from Africa and beyond, offering a tangible connection to the diaspora’s creative spirit. Complementing this cultural journey, Latha serves as a culinary gateway, its menu a homage to the diverse food traditions spanning Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil, and the southern United States, each dish and drink a story of heritage and unity.

Nestled in a historic dwelling just a stone’s throw north of Roosevelt Row, Sottise breathes new life into the venerable Knipe House, originally crafted by the acclaimed architect Leighton G. Knipe in 1909. As one of the remaining original structures in the Roosevelt Row arts district, the building’s storied past spans designs across Phoenix, including notable works on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. Despite enduring multiple renovations and recovering from a fire in 2010, the space found its new purpose in 2021 when TJ Culp and Esther Noh transformed it into Sottise. This modern French bistro pays tribute to the timeless elegance of French cuisine and viniculture, inviting guests to savor this homage on the home’s iconic wrap-around front porch or within the intimate confines of its dining room, each corner a whisper from the past.

Cibo Pizzeria
Cibo Pizzeria. Photo by Cibo Pizzeria

Set in a restored bungalow built by a rancher in 1913, Cibo Pizzeria resides in a charming neighborhood in central Phoenix. Before becoming a pizzeria, the home was once a boarding house and a naturopathic doctor’s office, according to the restaurant’s co-owner and chef Guido Saccone. Complete with an intimate front patio, exposed brick, hardwood floors, stained glass, and a fireplace, the building became Cibo in 2005 and has been serving Italian staples ever since. Popular for its red and white pizzas, fresh salads, and housemade pasta, Cibo is a local favorite for lunch and dinner.

As Optima residents explore these historical dining venues, they’re not just savoring a meal or a cocktail; they’re partaking in a living history lesson, savoring the stories of those who came before while contributing to the ongoing narrative of the vibrant community. Through these experiences, the past and present merge, offering a taste of history with every bite and sip.

Backgammon Basics: A Classic Game at Optima® Communities

At Optima®, we celebrate not only innovative architecture and vibrant living spaces but also the timeless traditions that bring our communities together. Among these cherished traditions is the ancient game of backgammon—a pastime that transcends cultures and generations, fostering connections and friendly competition. As we delve into the basics of backgammon, we invite Optima® residents to explore the joys and strategies of this classic game, often a highlight in our communal areas.

The Essence of Backgammon
Backgammon is one of the oldest board games known to humanity, with origins tracing back approximately 5,000 years. Its enduring appeal lies in the blend of luck and strategy, offering a dynamic and engaging experience for players of all ages. The game is played on a board consisting of 24 narrow triangles, known as points, grouped into four quadrants. Each player begins with 15 checkers, maneuvered based on the roll of two dice, with the ultimate goal of bearing off all one’s checkers off the board first.

Setting Up the Board
The setup is simple yet strategic, with each player placing their checkers in a mirrored configuration across the board. The checkers are distributed as follows: five on the 6-point, three on the 8-point, five on the 13-point, and two on the 24-point. This initial setup is the starting line of a race filled with strategic advancements and blockades against your opponent.

Backgammon board
By Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders – Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911, Public Domain, Wikipedia

The Gameplay
Players take turns rolling the dice to move their checkers. A checker moves forward to a point that is not occupied by two or more opposing checkers. The aspect of hitting and blocking adds a layer of tactical depth; landing on a point occupied by a single opposing checker sends that checker to the bar, forcing it to restart its journey across the board. This blend of forward momentum and defensive play makes backgammon a game of both chance and profound strategy.

Bearing Off
The climax of a backgammon game is the “bearing off” phase, where players remove their checkers from the board based on the roll of the dice. The first player to successfully bear off all their checkers wins the game. This final phase requires foresight and sometimes, a bit of luck, encapsulating the thrilling essence of backgammon.

Why Backgammon Resonates with Optima® Residents
Backgammon aligns seamlessly with the Optima® ethos of fostering community and enhancing the living experience through shared activities. It’s a game that invites residents to gather, challenge each other, and bond over a shared love for strategy and social interaction. The portable nature of backgammon sets means that residents can easily set up a game in our lush gardens, alongside the pool, or in any of our communal spaces designed for relaxation and socialization.

Whether you’re a seasoned player or new to the game, backgammon offers a delightful way to spend an afternoon or evening. With its simple setup, complex strategies, and rich historical roots, it serves as a bridge between cultures, ages, and people. Optima® communities regularly host game nights, including backgammon tournaments, where neighbors can come together, learn from each other, and enjoy the spirited competition. It’s an opportunity to engage with the broader Optima® community, learn a new skill, and perhaps, ignite a passion for one of the oldest games in human history.

 

Inside Optima®: Resident Stories, Interview with Shirley Moffs, Book Club Member at Optima Sonoran Village®

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. We recently sat down with Shirley Moffs, resident and Book Club member at Optima Sonoran Village®.

How long have you been a resident at Optima Sonoran Village®? What drew you there?

We moved to Optima Sonoran Village® in August 2020. We had always owned homes here in Scottsdale and began downsizing as our children grew up, and ended up in a townhouse about five minutes from here. From there, we watched this property being built, and we admired the architecture and landscaping — and saw how pet-friendly it is (we have a dog). So we opted for this wonderful new ‘easy living’ and couldn’t be happier.

Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to join the Resident Book Club at Optima Sonoran Village®?
When we first moved in, the Book Club held their meetings around the pool, and I grew curious when I saw them. I started asking around — especially among other dog owners — and began to see announcements around the building, as well. I love to read and was eager to meet new people, so I decided to join.

How many members are in your Club?
These days, there are about 35 members. We usually have 8 to 12 people attend any given bok discussion, since there are people who live elsewhere in the summer months and others who travel for work. So there’s a core group of us who are here all the time and others who come and go.

How often and where do you typically meet?
The Book Club meets the third Monday of every month in the early evening, after dinner. We experimented with getting together in different spaces around the community, but find that meeting in someone’s apartment is most comfortable for the kind of small group discussions we have. We typically bring wine and light snacks, as well, and we often run past our end time to simply stay and chat.

How does the Book Club decide on which books to read? Is there a specific theme or genre that the Club focuses on?
The group decides together what we read. We like variety, so we don’t stick to a single genre.  If we read a book that is heavy or somber, the next selection will be lighter. At one time there was a rule that we wouldn’t read anything longer than 300 pages, but we decided it was too restrictive and now leave the door open for longer books that we really want to dive into. And when we decide on the next book, the person who suggested it leads the discussion at our next get together. There are lots of online resources for crafting discussion guides for the books we select, which makes getting organized for a meeting is quite easy.

Can you share a particularly memorable discussion or event that you’ve enjoyed in the Book Club?
Last year, I saw this fellow, David Ambroz, on social media. He was raised in the foster care system and lived on the streets with his siblings as a young child. He has since become an award-winning child welfare advocate and wrote a best-selling memoir, A Place Called Home. Right before we were scheduled to meet and discuss the book, I discovered that David was doing a speaking tour for the book. I reached out on social media to see if he might consider coming to our Book Club as a guest. Well, believe it or not, he got right back to me. He said he wasn’t going to be in Phoenix, but offered to join us on Zoom during our meeting. So there he was, in his kitchen making dinner, and talking to us about his life experiences! What an incredible moment that was to have a direct connection to the author.

All of us in the conversation that night were so inspired, and have since found ways to get more involved with issues of foster care in Phoenix and Arizona. It’s amazing how the reading of a book with others can lead to such positive action.

What have been some of the favorite books you’ve read and discussed?
We read The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown, which recently came out as a movie (the book is much, much better!). And The Midnight Library by Matt Haig was terrific.

We also read Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, which for me was particularly interesting because I’m not usually a fan of science fiction and I found it a surprisingly humanistic story.

How do you think participating in a Book Club enriches the residential experience at Optima Sonoran Village®?
I’ve made some great friends through our Book Club; we often meet for coffee and lunch, or for dinner with our spouses, too.

And I have also found so much personal growth from participating in the Book Club. I love the discipline and accountability around reading and just having that opportunity to participate in conversation and learn from other people’s points of view.

For residents who might be interested in joining the Book Club, what advice would you give them? How can they get involved?
There’s always information about upcoming Book Club meetings on the building app, along with signage and emails. And we tend to act like ambassadors for the Club, encouraging other residents we meet at building events to come to a meeting if they like to read. Even if they haven’t read the book that month, they can simply enjoy the discussion and see if it’s a community-within-a-community that they might like to join.

Inside Optima®: Resident Stories, Interview with Susan Grace, Resident at 7140 Optima Kierland®

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 chat, we sat down with Susan Grace, resident at 7140 Optima Kierland®.

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself and how long you have been living at Optima Kierland Apartments?

My husband and I hail from the Midwest but have called Scottsdale home for the last 28 years. Initially, we settled into a beautiful single-family home in North Scottsdale, which we adored. However, after many wonderful years there, we were ready for a change and have been happily residing at Optima Kierland for just over three years now.

The main draw for us moving was the allure of a more vibrant community atmosphere. Despite being active in our previous neighborhood, it often felt like we were lacking meaningful connections. The idea of a broader community, coupled with escaping the constant upkeep of a house, was incredibly appealing. Our friends, who had moved into 7160, Optima Kierland’s first apartment building, gave us a glimpse into the lifestyle here, surrounded by shopping and dining options, which solidified our decision.

What initially attracted you to Optima Kierland, and how did you decide it was the right place for you?

The distinctive architecture of Optima Kierland stood out to us immediately, setting it apart from any other building in the area. Since moving in, the community experience has been nothing short of phenomenal. It has enriched our lives with great new friendships and access to fantastic organized activities.

What’s your favorite aspect of the community here? How do you engage with other residents and community events?

What we treasure most is the daily opportunity to connect with others, whether it’s a casual conversation in the elevator or while working out in the gym. This welcoming culture has significantly enriched our lives. The book club I proposed shortly after moving in has become a social cornerstone for us at 7140 and 7160, and now includes residents from 7190. We also enjoy the myriad of building-organized activities like Taco Night, happy hours, and trivia nights that we regularly enjoy.

How do you take advantage of the building’s amenities?

The amenities here, especially the gym, play a big part in our day-to-day lives. It’s not only well-equipped but also a hub of social activity. And though I haven’t ventured into pickleball, the availability of indoor and outdoor courts and lessons for beginners is fantastic. We also frequent the various common areas across the buildings for coffee meetups or a game of pool and find the conference rooms perfect for when my husband needs to meet with clients.

Can you share any particular experiences over the past few years that have been especially memorable?

Hosting my grandson here has been an absolute joy. He’s always excited to visit, thanks to the plethora of activities available. Renting the guest units in 7140 and 7160 for family stays has allowed us to create cherished memories, offering a more intimate experience than any hotel could provide.

Do you have much interaction with the staff?

Absolutely. The dedication and warmth of the staff, from the management to the maintenance team, significantly enhance our living experience here. I always look forward to my morning greetings with Francis, the resident coordinator in the office or sharing gym time with Macy, the maintenance manager.

Sunset from 7140 Optima Kierland
View of the sunset from 7140 Optima Kierland

What else would you like to share with us?

Above all, the panoramic views from our apartment truly take our breath away. The architectural design affords us an unobstructed westward view, allowing us to enjoy Lookout Mountain, lush greenery, and spectacular sunsets right from our living room. It’s these moments of natural beauty, combined with the vibrant community life, that make living at 7140 Optima Kierland so special.

 

Soundscaping in Architecture

Imagine entering a building where every element, from the rustle of leaves to the gentle flow of water, is part of an orchestrated sensory experience. This is the nature of soundscaping in architecture, a subtle yet powerful tool that architects use to shape our experience of spaces. Beyond the tangible structures and visual designs, soundscaping invites us into a deeper connection with our surroundings. Today, we’re exploring the intricacies of soundscaping in architecture, notable examples, and its relationship with other design approaches like biophilic architecture.

Soundscaping, in its essence, is the art of creating or modifying sound in a space. It’s about understanding how sound impacts our psychological and emotional well-being. From the bustling noise of a cityscape to the serene whispers of a forest, our environment’s sounds can alter our mood, productivity, and even health.

In the world of architecture, soundscaping is carefully woven into the design process. Architects and designers manipulate materials, spatial layouts, and unique architectural features to control sound. The key lies in striking a balance – absorbing unwanted noise while enhancing pleasant sounds, be it the gentle flow of water or the rustle of leaves.

Consider the Music Hall at the Āli Qapu Palace in Iran or Ekko in Denmark; these iconic structures are testimonies to successful soundscaping. The Music Hall at the Āli Qapu Palace not only focuses on visual appeal but also on how sound travels and enriches the listener’s experience. The various vaults in the ceiling help to create a lower reverberation time for the sound in the space, making it the perfect venue for intimate Iranian ballads.

Ekko in Denmark takes soundscaping to another level and is almost an instrument itself. Wooden frames are twisted in various forms with microphones scattering the build to capture the sounds visitors make when walking through the piece of art. Closer to everyday life, the design of open-plan offices and urban parks also incorporate soundscaping to create spaces that are both functional and inviting.

Signature vertical landscaping system used at Optima Kierland Apartments®
Our signature vertical landscaping system used at Optima Kierland Apartments®

Soundscaping finds a compatible ally in biophilic design. This approach integrates natural elements into architectural design, creating spaces where humans feel more connected to nature. Integrating soundscaping with biophilic design – think our Signature Vertical Landscaping System™, where the lush plants act as miniature gardens while providing benefits like ambient noise reduction – creates environments that are restorative and healthful. The gentle souSignature Vertical Landscaping System™nd of flowing water or rustling leaves can transform a space into a tranquil haven, promoting wellbeing and reducing stress.

The thoughtful integration of soundscaping in architectural design goes beyond aesthetics. It creates spaces that resonate with our innate need for comfort and tranquility. In a world where noise pollution is an increasing concern, soundscaping emerges as a vital tool in crafting spaces that are not just visually stunning but also acoustically harmonious.

Mirco-housing: How Architects are Adapting to Space Limitations

Micro-housing is reshaping the way many think about urban living, offering smart solutions for the challenges of modern city life. These compact living spaces, often no larger than a few hundred square feet, echo a long history of efficient living from cultures around the globe. Today, they stand at the forefront of addressing key urban issues: affordability and sustainability.

Traditionally, small-scale living has been a practical response to the constraints of urban environments. From Japan’s ‘Nagaya’ row houses to the historical tenements of New York, maximizing limited space has always been a necessity. In our modern cities, micro-housing revitalizes this concept, making urban centers more accessible to a diverse population. It’s especially attractive to young professionals and students who value location over spaciousness, providing them with an affordable entry point into bustling city centers.

Nagaya Row House
A model of the interior of a ‘Nagaya’ rowhouse popular in the Edo period of Japan. Credit to Wikimedia Commons

Sustainability is another pillar of the micro-housing movement. These units require fewer materials to build and less energy to heat, cool, and light, aligning with a growing demand for more environmentally friendly living options. The design of these spaces is a masterclass in efficiency, incorporating multi-functional furniture and innovative storage solutions to make every square inch count.

But micro-housing is more than a practical housing solution; it’s a catalyst for community building. Shared spaces such as lounges, kitchens, and gardens encourage interaction and foster a sense of belonging among residents. This communal aspect enriches the living experience, proving that a smaller footprint doesn’t mean compromising on quality of life.

As we look to the future of urban development, micro-housing presents a compelling model for creating vibrant, sustainable, and inclusive communities. It challenges us all to rethink our expectations of home and space, showing that with creativity and thoughtful design, we can make room for everyone.

 

Women in Architecture: Lois Lilley Howe

As part of our ongoing “Women in Architecture” series, we’re shining a light on Lois Lilley Howe, a trailblazing architect whose innovative work left a profound impact on American architecture. Breaking through gender barriers, Howe’s legacy is not just in her designs but also in the path she paved for future women architects.

The Life of Lois Lilley Howe

Born in 1864 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Lois Lilley Howe grew up in an environment that cherished education and forward-thinking ideals. Her pursuit of architectural studies led her to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she was among the first women in the United States to earn an architectural degree in 1890.

Her career began in various architectural offices in Boston, allowing her to develop a keen understanding of design and craftsmanship. In the early 1890s, Howe placed second in a competition, behind Sophia Hayden, to design the Women’s Building at the Chicago World’s Fair. In 1893, showcasing remarkable courage and determination, Howe established her own architectural practice in Boston, a rare feat for women at the time.

Notable Works and Achievements

Howe’s firm, known for its high-quality residential designs, was a pioneer in incorporating the Colonial Revival and Georgian Revival styles with modern functionalities. Many of her most notable works include residential projects in the Gray Garden’s Area, including the Chapman House, a testament to her ability to blend traditional aesthetics with contemporary living needs. Another significant project, the Cornish House reflects Howe’s meticulous attention to detail and her mastery of the Colonial Revival style.

Chapman House
Chapman House, 1923, Credit to Google Maps

Howe’s work extended beyond residential design; she also made significant contributions to the preservation of historic New England architecture. Her restoration work often highlighted her deep respect for architectural history while ensuring that buildings remained functional and relevant for modern use.

In 1926, Howe co-founded one of the first all-female architectural firms in the United States, Howe, Manning & Almy, Inc. with Eleanor Manning and Mary Almy. This collaboration further established her as a leading figure in the architectural community of New England.

 

Cornish House, 1916
Cornish House, 1916, Credit to Cambridge Historical Commission flickr

Howe’s professional journey was a pioneering force in an era when women’s roles in professional fields were constrained. She was not only a Director for the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts but also, in 1931, became the first woman elected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Lois Lilley Howe’s legacy endures as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring women architects. Her career exemplifies the profound impact that visionary thinking, coupled with unwavering determination, can have in the world of architecture.

Our Guide to the Celebration of Fine Art Scottsdale

Scottsdale’s appreciation for the arts is celebrated in every corner, from the myriad public art displays to the museums with ever-changing exhibitions. Yet, the heart of the city’s art scene beats strongest at the Celebration of Fine Art. This annual event, taking place from January 13 to March 24, 2024, is not just an exhibition but a community gathering, bringing together art aficionados and creators in a unique celebration of creativity.

Throughout the event’s 30-year history, the Celebration of Fine Art has become a staple event for art lovers to connect with each other and the talented artists who populate the 40,000-square-foot showcase. These creatives include 100 celebrated and emerging artists from across the country, whose art ranges from ceramics and jewelry to paintings and furniture.

Not only will the artists be showcasing their collections, but they will also create new pieces within their studios. This activity will take place throughout the 10-week event. Visitors are encouraged to engage with each artist and observe how various mediums are brought to life. Throughout the space, they also have access to a café and exclusive hour-long discussions each Friday at 4 p.m. that dive into the inspiration, techniques, and stories held by various artists.

Artist-palette-at-Celebration-of-Fine-Art-Scottsdale
An artist’s palette at Celebration of Fine Art Scottsdale, Credit to Experience Scottsdale flickr

Whether you’re new to the art world or a seasoned collector, the Celebration of Fine Art welcomes all. The show runs daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is just a ten-minute drive for Optima Kierland Apartments residents and a twenty-minute drive for Optima Sonoran Village residents. Tickets for the annual event can be found on their website.

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Glencoe, IL





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