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Green Space Spotlight: Optima Lakeview

Open green space can be a difficult convenience to find in many Chicago neighborhoods and properties. However, that isn’t an issue with Optima residences and buildings; we strive to welcome the lush and lively Chicago greenery inside our doors. Our newest development, Optima Lakeview compliments the neighborhood surrounding it with outdoor terrace landscapes, a vibrant sky deck, and nature bridging indoor atrium. 

Optima Lakeview offers communal spaces outdoors that otherwise would be hard to find in the bustling neighborhood for many. Landscaped terraces, full of ornate and healthy foliage provide lush welcoming spaces for many to enjoy the modern architecture that surrounds them over a warm fire pit and private grill for year-round grilling. 

The highlight of Optima Lakeview, however, is its 3,600 square foot indoor atrium. Acting as the heart of Optima Lakeview, the atrium allows for integrated access to both units and amenities. The expansive space, designed by Optima CEO David Hovey Sr., welcomes visitors from the lobby with abundant floor-to-ceiling greenery utilizing Optima’s signature vertical landscaping. Abundant natural light floods the space as glass ceilings open the room to the sky deck and rooftop pool above. For residents, the landscaped center of the atrium that is home to an abundance of vegetation invites the guise of living in an oasis.

Optima Lakeview three-bedroom model residence

Like the green spaces in our other developments, Optima Lakeview’s supply of lush greenery allows our residents to enjoy a wealth of benefits. Green areas in urban environments help absorb excess heat and pollution and provide residents with ample space to stretch and engage around vegetation, improving cardiovascular health and relieve stress. And while urban living is often individualistic, grand communal spaces like Optima Lakeview’s atrium and sky deck promote community and social cohesion.  

At Optima, we are dedicated to bringing the outdoors into our communities. The picturesque private terraces, one-of-a-kind indoor atrium and other lush amenities at Optima Lakeview welcome that outdoor experience and allow us to fashion a sanctuary of our own. 

Rooftop Amenities at Optima Lakeview: The Sky Deck

Chicago boasts of the best skylines in the country, and there is no better place to revel in the city’s one-of-a-kind architecture than Optima Lakeview’s very own sky deck. And not only does the sky deck provide views of the city from the lakefront to Wrigley Field, but it also allows residents to enjoy the fresh air year-round with access to a range of unique, extensive amenities. 

Optima Lakeview’s unparalleled sky deck has a surprise around every corner. From the resort-style pool and spa that stays heated for year-round use to the fire pits featuring lounge seating, residents will be able to go for a swim or relax at any moment. Our design provides plenty of ways for residents to stay physically and mentally healthy and embodies our dedication to creating spaces where residents can be active, inspired and entertained. 

Because of the sky deck’s versatility and unique amenities, the space is more than just a hub for wellness and relaxation, it’s also a space for residents to connect with their larger community. The BBQs, outdoor kitchens and theater provide the perfect opportunity for families and friends to convene and enjoy a movie and dinner under the stars. The space also features a glass-enclosed party room where residents have access to an extensive lounge area for entertaining. And, with views spanning the whole city, and Wrigley Field only a half-mile away, the Sky Deck provides the perfect opportunity for Chicago Cubs fans to throw their own viewing party. 

The sky deck at Optima Lakeview
The sky deck at Optima Lakeview

Optima Lakeview’s sky deck exemplifies our dedication to inventive, distinctive amenity spaces that leave a lasting impact on our residents. However, the sky deck isn’t the only extraordinary amenity Optima Lakeview affords. Residents can find more than 40,000 square feet of amenity space, including an indoor basketball court, golf simulator, fitness center and more. Stay tuned for more Optima Lakeview spotlights, or learn more here.

The Future of Sustainable Design in Architecture

At Optima, sustainable design has always been part of our ethos, as we strive to create vibrant communities built with the surrounding natural environment at the forefront. And as technology continues pushing the boundaries of sustainability in architecture, we wanted to explore what the future might possibly hold. 

Historically, sustainable architecture has focused on lush outdoor environments, and at Optima, we know the benefits of urban greenspaces, which is why we have incorporated them into our communities for decades. Urban greenspaces and vertical landscaping are just some of the many sustainable features found in many of our Optima communities that help promote mental and physical health, while mitigating pollution and emulating the feeling of oasis. 

Today, as new age modernism continues to evolve and environmentalism exceeds formalism, designers and architects are developing new ways to create built environments that also benefit the Earth. The newest approach to sustainable architecture is found within regenerative building. 

Regenerative building looks beyond lessening harmful impact; it seeks ways to repair and restore the surrounding environment. In the regenerative design process, innovators conceive ways for each building to produce its own energy, treat its own water and emit a net-positive impact on the environment. 

The Centre for the Built Environment’s living wall which features 24 plant species and 7,000 plants, courtesy of Nova Scotia Community College
The Centre for the Built Environment’s living wall which features 24 plant species and 7,000 plants, courtesy of Nova Scotia Community College

While global contests like Redesign the World are encouraging designers to envision radical solutions to end environmental issues through built communities, some architects have begun to bring regenerative building to life. 

The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, Georgia Tech, courtesy of Justin Chan Photography, Lord Aeck Sargent, and Miller Hull Partnership
The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, Georgia Tech, courtesy of Justin Chan Photography, Lord Aeck Sargent, and Miller Hull Partnership

Buildings like The Kendeda Building For Innovative Sustainable Design found on Georgia Tech’s campus and Portal High School in Irvine, California use green roofs and water collection systems to reduce reliance on negative forms of energy. Other buildings like Nova Scotia Community College’s Centre for the Built Environment take advantage of multiple sustainable design features like living walls, geothermal systems and solar and wind energy to regenerate and restore their surroundings. 

As sustainable approaches to design continue to expand over time, we can’t wait to continue exploring how – through architecture – we can change contribute to a healthier, more sustainable environment.

How to Keep Active in the Winter With Optima Fitness Centers

When the weather turns cold and the days get shorter, it can be difficult to stay true to our fitness goals. As part of Optima’s commitment to creating happy and healthy communities, we’re constantly developing ways to keep residents active throughout the year. In all of our buildings, residents will find incredible fitness and wellness amenities to stave off winter blues.

Indoor Basketball/Pickleball

The basketball courts at Optima provide generous spaces for individuals or groups to build endurance and strengthen their bodies, and they are thoughtfully designed to effortlessly flow into the modern design around them. Residents can step onto the courts to spend time doing drills or to join a pickup game. And as pickleball becomes evermore popular, many of our courts are now fitted out to accommodate this popular game, giving each space greater versatility.

Yoga 

For those looking for vigor, balance, stretching and meditative activity, Optima’s yoga studios are the perfect answer. Our yoga studios are fantastic for residents to learn more about themselves, practice mindfulness and discover new ways of staying active. Maintaining a routine yoga practice provides mental and physical health benefits, including improved energy and vitality. And, similar to all of our other amenity spaces, our yoga studios serve as spaces to build community and connect with other Optima residents who might share the same values.

Optima Lakeview’s state-of-the-art fitness center

Expansive Fitness Centers

Included in each of our apartment communities and many of our condominiums, Optima’s expansive fitness centers offer residents endless opportunities to focus on their health and wellness. At Optima Lakeview, the fitness center has been outfitted with top-of-the-line cardio equipment, a weight room, a light-filled studio for yoga and stretching and locker rooms with complimentary towel service. Residents can also take advantage of yoga classes and personal training, along with outdoor clubs for runners, bikers and nature lovers.

Swimming Pool at 7140 Kierland
Rooftop sky deck pool at the 7140 tower at Optima Kierland Apartments

Swimming Pools

No discussion of fitness and wellness amenities at Optima would be complete without showcasing our swimming pools. Many of our communities, including Optima Kierland, Optima Sonoran Village, Optima Signature and Optima Lakeview, offer beautifully-designed indoor and/or outdoor swimming pools — ideal for lap swimming and water aerobics — as a central feature of our impressive rooftop sky deck spaces. While the health benefits of swimming are compelling year-round, they are especially powerful in the cold winter months when a regular pool routine can be both invigorating and relaxing.

Rooftop Sauna at Optima Kierland Apartments
Rooftop Sauna at Optima Kierland Apartments

Saunas

A favorite among Optima residents, our rooftop saunas are a relaxing way to stay healthy throughout the year. While they aren’t a means to be active, saunas come with a wealth of  benefits, providing residents with an opportunity to reduce stress, relieve pain and recharge. While the benefits of using a sauna are seemingly endless, with cold weather, hopping into a heated room might be the only motivation you need.

At Optima communities, residents never have to fear the impact of winter on their mobility or on their peace of mind. With our healthy environments and distinctive amenities, mental and physical health are always a priority.

A Brief History of the Skylight

One of Optima’s hallmark design principles is bridging outdoor and indoor environments through thoughtful architecture. Throughout history, many features of design have supported that same principle. Today, we’re exploring an ancient feature of architecture that continues to evolve with time and make its mark in delightful new ways — the skylight. 

History 

The concept of using natural light to brighten a room isn’t new. The skylight’s origin can be traced back to Ancient Roman architecture and design. The extravagant feature was regularly included in many Roman construction feats and was often referred to as an oculus. One of the most famous skylights of its time, the oculus at the Pantheon in Rome, still welcomes vibrant rays into the church today.

Over time, glass became a sought-after resource for use in grand development features like the skylight. As the industrial revolution began, more and more innovative architectural advancements came into play, including the fabrication of architectural glass work, allowing a growing number of architects to experiment with skylight design.

The oculus at the Pantheon, Rome, Italy
The oculus at the Pantheon, Rome, Italy

Architects around the world began incorporating skylights in their designs, which allowed them to play with volume, natural light and interior space in exciting new ways — much to the delight of their patrons who commissioned their work. Many of the most celebrated buildings erected from the mid-18th century through the early 19th century featured skylights, including the opulent Palace of Versailles and the elegant arcades of the Galerie Vivienne and Passage Jouffroy.

Optima Lakeview

Our newest luxury residential development, Optima Lakeview, is dedicated to pushing the boundaries to offer a fresh, elevated sense of home; as part of the vision, we chose to orient the entire building design around a seven-story atrium, replete with a fixed in place, geometric skylight fabricated from steel and coated in our signature Optima Red.  Beyond the design itself, the use of skylights floods the interior volume with natural light, offering residents and visitors a constant boost to their health and wellbeing. 

Natural light floods into the atrium and other extraordinary amenity spaces at Optima Lakeview

Today

The skylight has continued to evolve and expand its purpose. Modern adaptations, benefitting from new design thinking coupled with sophisticated engineering and materials, allow for more observable connections to outdoor environments and sustainable building standards, including energy and temperature conservation. 

Today’s design professionals working on projects ranging from commercial buildings to retail centers to private residences continue to break new ground with skylights that provide exciting new features such as roof windows and other retractable roof lights that expose the outdoors. And with the ongoing research and interest in natural light’s many health benefits by scientists and architects alike, there is no doubt that the iconic skylight will continue evolving, with forward-thinking architects pushing the boundaries.

The Health Benefits of Jogging

Jogging is a wonderfully minimalist form of exercise that requires nothing more than a free slot of time, a good pair of running shoes and open space. At Optima, it is our priority to build communities in and around accessible environments, where our residents can head out their doors to enjoy a run. There are many health benefits to the sport that might inspire you to give it a try. 

Getting Started

Jogging is not about speed, nor is it about distance — it’s about movement and a slow-and- steady-wins-the-race attitude. One of the activities’ great advantages is that it can be done both individually or within a group. A running club is a fantastic way to meet other runners, form community and stay motivated. Apps like Nike Run Club and Strava track time, distance, and offer guided runs and training programs for beginners and experienced joggers alike. Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) has branches in cities around the country and hosts groups for runners of all levels. In Chicago, RRCA is a perfect option for residents in our Optima Signature and upcoming Optima Lakeview properties, given their incredible proximity to the lakefront trails. And at Optima Kierland, a rooftop running track offers 360° views of the stunning landscape as residents jog outdoors without leaving the building.

Lifetime Health Boost

While jogging relieves pain and increases endorphins, making you happier in the moment, the long-term benefits are also significant. The stress your body endures while jogging actually improves your bone and muscle strength. It’s also excellent for cardiovascular health, improving circulation and maintaining blood pressure while controlling cholesterol and glucose levels. 

A study conducted by Stanford University found that jogging increases longevity and reduces the risk of disability and chronic illness later in life. The habit of regular jogging has been found to add 1 to 3 years to a lifespan.

Positive Mental Impact

Alongside numerous physical benefits, jogging also supports mental wellbeing and overall neurological health. Jogging releases endorphins, which are mood increasing hormones that help to alleviate stress, depression, and leave one feeling calm and rejuvenated. Jogging can also be a meditative activity that helps clear the mind. And when you take your runs outside, you’re also exposed to vitamin D and fresh air which improve overall well being.

Cognitive & Creative Enhancer

As jogging indirectly improves mood and sleep, anxiety and stress levels fall. This leads to sharper thinking and counteracts cognitive disorders like onset dementia. Jogging has also been found to create new brain cells and improve overall cognitive performance. Recent research completed by the British Journal of Sports Medicine discovered that jogging dramatically increases creativity. The more you exercise, the more creative you become. As the activity becomes a regularity, jogging can provide clarity and focus, generating a flow of creativity and new ideas.

Jogging is one of many ways to stay active; it is a wonderful way to maintain your health and get outdoors. For those who jog regularly, the health benefits expand far beyond the immediate moment and leave a lasting impact for years.

Easy Houseplants for the Indoor Gardener

While Chicago’s seasons are distinctly wonderful, we do miss our outdoor gardens, parks and greenspaces in the winter months. One antidote to winter’s edge is to bring gardening indoors, especially in the light-filled apartments at Optima Signature, which provide beautiful spaces for plants to flourish year-round. There are countless benefits to indoor gardening — brightening a room, improving mental health, cleaning and freshening the air around you — to name a few. And if you haven’t yet discovered your green thumb, here are some easy-to-find houseplants that will flourish inside, and allow you to remain surrounded by greenery year-round.

Pothos

A trailing vine that can fit in a small pot, Pothos has the nickname “devils ivy” for a reason, essentially because they live ceaselessly. Pothos is the perfect plant for the beginner gardener or the urban dweller, as the sunlight it prefers can either be bright and lower level. Pothos also can handle over and under-watering and its vibrant green leaves look lovely spilling out from its pot.

Phalaenopsis Orchid

Orchids are elegant flowers but need slightly more attention and effort than most plants. For those hoping to try their indoor gardening on the flower, the Phalaenopsis Orchid, native to tropical Asian climates, prefers to sit in east or south windows. Though it does need a humid environment, the beautiful show blooms are considerably forgiving when it comes to caring. This flower only needs to be watered every week or week and a half and is a bright addition to any indoor garden with brilliant shades ranging from reds to purples and violets.

Snake Plant

A favorite among novice indoor gardeners, snake plants thrive in home environments with plenty of bright light and are adaptable to watering. Snake plants have striking, sword-shaped green leaves that shoot upwards with a lighter green outline. They range from small to mid-sized and are easy to repot when they outgrow their original home.

Lucky Bamboo

Lucky Bamboo is the sort of plant that can thrive in any welcoming condition that it lives in. The plant prefers to sit in bright natural light and favors filtered water about once a week. They are also believed to bring good luck and enhance the positive energy of their surroundings, making them a lovely housewarming gift. 

Air Plant

For those who prefer a dirtless alternative, an air plant is an excellent choice. Air plants need to be submerged in water for 2-3 hours every ten days and then can be left to illuminate a space. They look lovely hanging from the ceiling, in a glass jar, on a plate, atop a stack of books, and add a lively spot of green to any space.

Yucca

If you want a larger plant, Yucca is the way to go. These tall, leafy plants require a broader pot to balance their top-heavy, intense green, leafy stems and lots of sun. They are an easy tree to keep in a well-lit corner and are very flexible about watering.

Aloe

Aloe prefers bright indirect light, making it perfect for a desk or bedroom that needs an enriching new accessory. Though Aloe plants are easy-going about watering, the best way to care for them is soaking them every two weeks for optimal growth.

The Health Benefits of Saunas

Saunas have been health staples in cultures around the world for thousands of years. The oldest saunas, found in Finland, are thought to date from around 2,000 BC and used stones to create high temperatures and dry heat in the winters. In Korea, domed structures often warmed by kilns appeared in literature as early as the 15th century. In the Orkney’s of Scotland, stone structures thought to incorporate the use of steam date back to the neolithic age. 

In modern times, the most common saunas used in western culture originate from Northern Europe and have temperatures around 212 degrees Fahrenheit and relatively low humidity. They remain today a staple of health and wellness, and can be found at spas, resorts, poolsides, gyms, and even private homes and bathrooms. 

Saunas are known for their numerous health benefits. When an individual spends time in a sauna, the heat causes their heartbeat to increase and their blood vessels to widen, improving circulation. Saunas are comforting, calm spaces that promote relaxation and, paired with the improvement of circulation, can reduce stress levels and improve overall cardiovascular wellbeing. 

Dry saunas, especially, are known for their positive impact on heart health. They also reduce the symptoms of rheumatic diseases such as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Dry saunas are known for relieving skin conditions such as the itchiness from psoriasis. There is some evidence that dry saunas also may improve athletic performance.

Indoor Sauna at Optima Signature
Indoor Sauna at Optima Signature

When it comes to enjoying a sauna, for optimal benefits, most experts recommend around fifteen minutes per sitting and allowing your body time to rehydrate and cool down before resuming normal activities. 

Saunas are a wonderful way to relax and boost both cardiovascular and overall health. The use of saunas is an ages-old practice that prioritizes bodily and mental health, spans around the globe, and persists today.

Women in Architecture: Denise Scott Brown

Denise Scott Brown knew from the age of five that she wanted to be an architect. Born in 1931 Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Scott Brown pursued her dream by spending her summers working for architects and studying at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.

In 1952, Scott Brown moved to London to work for modernist architect, Frederick Gibberd. While in London, Scott Brown won admission to the prestigious Architectural Association School of Architecture before moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1958 to study at the University of Pennsylvania’s planning department and obtain a master’s degree in city planning and architecture.

In 1967, Scott Brown joined Robert Venturi’s architectural firm, Venturi and Raunch, where she became principal in charge of planning in 1969. Scott Brown’s approach to architecture with Venturi was to understand a city in terms of social, economic, and cultural perspectives and to use these perspectives a set of complex systems in which to build a structure.

With Venturi, Scott Brown designed the Bryn Mawr College Campus Center as well as a campus plan in 1997 which considered the campus’s physical character as originally shaped by famous planners and architects Calvert Vaux, Frederick Olmsted, Louis Kahn, and more. The student body of Bryn Mawr College, having grown, needed an expanded campus, and Scott Brown planned an expansion that celebrated the campus’s original orthogonal pattern while accommodating the students’ needs. 

Nikko Hotel, designed by Scott Brown
Nikko Hotel, courtesy of Venturi, Scott Brown, and Associates

Another of Scott Brown’s designs is for the Japanese Nikko Hotel chain, in which Scott Brown merged the ideals of western comfort with Japanese Kimono patterns to celebrate the heritage of the hotel chain while catering to the western audience. 

In 1989, Venturi and Raunch was renamed to Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, celebrating Scott Brown’s contributions to the firm. The firm is known as one of the most influential architecture firms of its time and is celebrated for radical theories of design while approaching its practice clearly and comprehensively.

In 1991, Robert Venturi was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, while Scott Brown was not recognized for her contributions to Venturi’s work. Scott Brown boycotted the award ceremony. In 2013, a student organization titled Women in Design started by Caroline Amory James and Arielle Assouline-Lichten at the Harvard School of Design started a petition for Scott Brown to receive joint recognition for the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Though Scott Brown has still not been awarded joint recognition for the Pritzker Prize, in 2017, she won the prestigious Jane Dew Prize. 

Throughout her career, Scott Brown struggled to be recognized as an equal partner at a male-dominated firm. In 1975, Scott Brown wrote an essay titled “Room at the Top? Sexism and the Star System in Architecture,” though Scott Brown did not publish the essay until 1989 out of fear of damaging her career. The essay became an immediate hit, and Scott Brown has continued to advocate for women in architecture throughout her life.

The Environmental Benefits of Vertical Landscaping

Vertical landscaping is a signature feature across Optima communities. In Arizona, we’re easily recognized by the lush greenery that makes itself a key element of the facade at Optima Camelview Village and Optima Sonoran Village. Most recently, we’ve even strategized how to bring our vertical landscaping to the inclement midwestern climate, with plans to incorporate it at our latest development in Wilmette, Optima Verdana.

Photo of Optima Verdana
Vertical landscaping at Optima Verdana in Wilmette.

Besides providing aesthetic value through added beauty and privacy for residents, our vertical landscaping system also serves another important purpose: bringing a broad array of environmental benefits to the natural environments in which we build.

The impact of our vertical landscaping system is something we calculated carefully through extensive design exploration, engineering and a multi-year research collaboration with Arizona State University.

The system, with self-containing irrigation and drainage, provides a haven for urban wildlife, promotes evaporative cooling, re-oxygenates the air, reduces dust and smog levels, reduces ambient noise, detains stormwater and thermally insulates and shields residents from the desert sun, all of which contributes to a sustainable urban environment.

Residents and community members alike also get to experience the direct impact of being surrounded by nature, with the vertical landscaping system serving as a connection to nature. Wherever this connection is made, it fosters a lifelong appreciation for the environment around us, and helps us all to stay mindful of the role we play in keeping that environment safe.

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