fbpx

Vertical Landscaping Around the World

Our passionate connection to nature is an essential piece of our identity at Optima and has been since our founding. This foundation has led to signature design elements in our properties, like our vertical landscaping system. From the vibrant greenery that extends beyond Optima Kierland Center, Optima Camelview Village and Optima Sonoran Village in Arizona to the introduction of vertical landscaping to the Midwest’s four seasons at Optima Verdana in Chicago, the lush green element is a cornerstone of our Optima communities. Given our innovation in this arena, it’s interesting to take a look at how vertical landscaping is used throughout the rest of the world:

The Via Verde project, Mexico City

Via Verde, Mexico City 

In 2016, Mexico City began planning an ambitious project to bring vibrant greenery into the city to reduce pollution and welcome additional natural allure to the area. The city came up with Via Verde, an initiative to cover more than 1,000 highway pillars with lush vertical landscaping. Because traffic in the city is some of the most congested in the world, the pillars not only serve as beneficial to the environment but also as works of natural art for residents.  

The vertical landscaping at One Central Park, Sydney

One Central Park, Sydney

Completed in 2012, One Central Park was built as part of Sydney’s Central Park renewal project. The building is a dual high-rise with a height of more than 380 feet, but it is famously known for its vertical landscaping designed by its architects, Foster and Partners, Ateliers Jean Nouvel and PTW Architects. The vertical landscaping system was a collaboration between French botanist Patrick Blanc, the modern innovator of the green wall, and the architects. One Central Park is home to 350 different species, including both exotic and native verdure, and totaling over 85,000 plants that cascade more than meters down its facade.

The Rainforest Chandelier in EmQuartier, Bangkok

Rainforest Chandelier, EmQuartier, Bangkok

Designed by the American architecture firm Leeser Architecture, EmQuartier is a 2,700,000 square foot mall located in Bangkok, Thailand. The innovative design that makes up the grand retail hub features restaurants, offices, event halls, and at its heart, an open-air atrium. In the atrium’s core, an unprecedented 337-foot chandelier hangs with exotic plants spilling from its sides. Patrick Blac – who also inspired One Central Park’s vertical landscaping – not only designed the ellipse-shaped Rainforest Chandelier for EmQuartier but also included two garden areas and a fully landscaped bridge connecting the mall to other surrounding buildings. 

We couldn’t be more proud to have brought vertical landscaping to the Scottsdale and Chicago communities like many other projects have done across the globe, enriching communities and fostering a connection to nature found little elsewhere.

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. 

Arcosanti: Creating a City

Known for his unique approach to architecture, Paolo Soleri brought the philosophy of arcology to numerous of Arizona’s most stunning environments. In Cosanti, he welcomed his otherworldly construction elements to the surroundings of Scottsdale. Today, we’re spotlighting another of the architect’s treasures, which embraces all of Soleri’s design principles on a much grander scale, Arcosanti

Inception of Arcosanti

Following the completion of his first build, Cosanti, Soleri began to explore more behind the meaning of arcology – a word he coined himself to label if design philosophy. What he began to discover was just how significant ecologically sound human habitats were to the ideology. 

In 1970, following the release of his book Arcology: The City in the Image of Man, in which he detailed the concept of cities embodying the fusion of architecture and ecology, Soleri began developing his own planned city, Cosanti. The project – found roughly 70 miles North of Scottsdale – was built to exhibit how urban environments can be elevated while minimizing negative impacts on the surroundings. 

Arcosanti’s ceramics apse, one of two that reside in the planned city

Arcosanti is built on 25 acres of a 6.25 square mile property, and though originally planned to house 5,000 people, the community is home to a population that varies from 100 to 150 throughout the year. Because the planned city is ever-changing, construction and development continue today due to the many students and volunteers who call it home. 

Architecture

The magnificent community currently consists of 13 major structures, ranging in size and purpose and featuring diverse design features unique to the town. One particular feature is the site-cast tilt-up concrete panels used to support various buildings, expressing similar patterns to the earth around them, some even cast in embedded art. 

Other attentive design features include the southward orientation of most buildings designed to capture the most natural light and an apse – similar to Cosanti’s – built to house the community’s bronze bell-casting space. 

The city also features essential builds intentionally placed to help the community thrive, including two barrel vaults, apartment residences, an outdoor amphitheater, a community swimming pool, an office complex and a lush greenhouse. 

Arcosanti’s two barrel vaults with art embedded concrete walls

Today, Arcosanti continues to fulfill Soleri’s vision as an educational center for upcoming architects and philosophers. Scholars from across the world choose the community to attend advanced workshops and classes on everything from experimental design to architectural agriculture.  

Nearly 40,000 tourists visit the unique community annually to witness Soleri’s philosophy of arcology in person. Visitors can take guided tours through the sweeping campus or stay overnight in one of its lavish guest accommodations. To plan your trip to the historic community, or learn more about its events and programming, visit Arcosanti’s website 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.

Meet the Winner of the Redesign the World Contest

As champions of leading-edge, thoughtfully-designed spaces built to inspire communities, we enjoy sharing the visionary work of others who continue to impact the world’s landscape. In early 2021, Dezeen, the internationally-acclaimed architecture, interiors and design magazine, launched its Redesign the World 2021 competition. More than 100 firms submitted their ideas for rethinking planet Earth, and Dezeen has provided a platform to showcase the 15 most visionary, radical solutions to ending environmental issues. 

Dezeen launched the contest in partnership with Epic Games and architectural visualization tool Twinmotion. The competition sought revolutionary solutions and asked contestants several ambitious questions, including: where and how will everyone live; how will vital ecosystems flourish; and most importantly, what would a redesigned planet resemble? 

Each proposal consisted of an in-depth narrative, still images and a short video animation depicting the landscape. And, following more than two months of deliberation, Dezeen published all of the top submissions here, including the winning entry: Fernando Donis’ Frame City.

Donis, a celebrated architect known for designing CCTV Headquarters and managing the international architect firm Donis, constructed an idealized environment in which nature and humanity coexist. In his design, Donis established new forms of topography formed by terrace-like structures made of timber, depicting a vibrant natural landscape filled with lush greenery intended to house millions of people. The inspired landscape takes advantage of the most sustainable transportation methods and produces an environment where diverse networks of cultural exchange would thrive.

Like Optima, Donis envisions a world where nature and infrastructure become one, and innovative, thoughtful design leads the direction for an excelling world. You can read more about Fernando Donis and his vision behind Frame City here.  

Optima Communities: Revisiting Lakeview

​​As our newest development, Optima Lakeview, nears completion, we are diving back into this beloved neighborhood. Here are just a few things that make Lakeview special to us at Optima and to the residents who call the neighborhood home.

Festivities Year-round 

No matter the season, festivals and markets fill Lakeview’s social calendar, providing locals with numerous opportunities to connect and celebrate. A neighborhood favorite, Restaurant Week kicks things off each spring with a handful of specials on local menus, allowing foodies to explore Lakeview one dish at a time. Fitness fanatics will enjoy the Lincoln Hub Workout Series hosted in South Lakeview Park during the summertime. Halsted Street is filled with pride in June to celebrate Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community. 

Lakeview’s Festival of the Arts spotlights local artists, musicians and restaurants in the autumn months annually. In October, families take part in Trick or Treat Southport, with Halloween-themed activities for all ages. To close the year, festive lights, photos with Santa and more can be found at Lakeview’s Holiday Stroll.

Rendering of Optima Lakeview

Hidden Gems 

Lakeview has plenty of shops, restaurants, museums and theatres to satisfy all interests. However, there are a few neighborhood staples that not many know about. Located just off of Diversey, Clark and Broadway, Landmark Century Centre Cinema is a favorite for film buffs and is complete with a Spanish Baroque façade designed by the prominent architecture firm Levy & Klein. On Lakeview’s South Side, Wrightwood 659, designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Tadao Ando, presents visitors with thought-provoking exhibitions of international art and architecture not found anywhere else. The museum’s current exhibition, Romanticism to Ruin, includes reconstructions of two lost works from Louis H. Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Near the exhibition space sits a neighborhood favorite for food, Del Seoul. The local restaurant fuses traditional American, Korean and Mexican food into a tasty menu unique to the city. One of Lakeview’s more well-known hidden gems is Northalsted Market Days. The annual tradition takes place on Halsted Street for six blocks, making it the largest outdoor street festival in the Midwest. During the two-day festival that takes place in August, tourists and locals celebrate the community and enjoy local vendors, food, arts, crafts and music.

Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course

An Abundance of Green Space

Neighboring Lincoln Park offers virtually endless pastimes for everyone to enjoy. The Lincoln Park Zoo and landmark Lincoln Park Conservatory offer free admission and are filled with animals and lush greenery to enjoy throughout the year. Located just below the Zoo, dozens of sustainable local vendors sell fresh produce at the Green City Market from May through November, named one of the best markets in the nation.

Residents will find a number of accessible outdoor recreational activities just steps from Optima Lakeview. A short stroll down Lakeshore Drive West leads to a driving range, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and several beaches and restaurants near the lake. Kayakers and rowers have easy access to Diversey Harbor and South Lagoon, granting the perfect spot to spend a warm day. Tennis and golf lovers can conveniently walk to the renowned Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course and various tennis courts that neighbor Optima Lakeview and are all open to the public.

The opening of Optima Lakeview is fast approaching and we look forward to sharing more about this state-of-the-art development as it becomes part of the Lakeview community!

The Benefits of Urban Greenspaces

At Optima, we approach every project as an opportunity to explore the best possible ways to create harmony between the built and natural environments to allow our residents to enjoy a wealth of benefits that contribute to a healthier, more sustainable environment.

We understand that greenspaces; parks, gardens, conservatories, roof gardens and residential greenery are crucial to the vitality of urban spaces and the communities where they are found. Population density of urban areas is increasing swiftly. By 2050, it is estimated that 68% of the global population will live in cities. According to the WHO, urban greenspaces promote mental and physical health through the promotion of physical activity, mutual understanding, and mitigating exposure to air and noise pollution as well as excessive heat. 

In the summer, the heat generated by human activity, transport, and industry creates an increased need for energy consumption to cool spaces. Green areas have the ability to absorb that heat and pollution. They also allow urban dwellers to stretch their legs and be outside, improving cardiovascular health and relieving stress. Each space also promotes social cohesion, the coming together of people who would usually not interact with each other due to the individualistic nature of urban living.

Landscaping used to create privacy at Optima Signature
Landscaping used to create privacy at Optima Signature

At Optima we recognize the tremendous advantages greenspaces provide. In Chicago, Optima Signature’s inviting plaza filled with lush landscaping and 1.5 acres of amenity space encourages residents to spend time outdoors. Gardens, landscaped fire pits, swimming pools, and outdoor entertainment all radiate the feeling of an oasis within the larger urban environment.

Landscaped Courtyard at Optima Kierland Apartments
Landscaped Courtyard at Optima Kierland Apartments

Optima Kierland Center embraces its surrounding beauty and builds off of it. Lush greenery fills the more than 7.5 acres of open space connecting Optima Kierland’s buildings in a park-like setting. Similarly, Optima Sonoran Village utilizes more than half of its 10-acre property to house stunning landscaping, sculpture, and pedestrian paths while mitigating the desert’s harsh climate. We utilize rooftop gardens and our signature vertical landscaping at Optima Sonoran Village, Optima Kierland Apartments, and will be bringing it to Chicago at Optima Verdana, to create an oasis inspired by its surroundings that contribute to the greater environment. This type of green space brings both beauty and positive contributions to their communities. 

Greenspaces make urban living refreshing, enjoyable and social. And as our cities become more and more dense, urban greenspaces become a crucial part of the ecosystem — and of our enhanced quality of life.

A Guide to the Chicago Architecture Biennial: The Available City

The first of its kind in North America, Chicago’s Architecture Biennial, an international exhibition of architectural ideas, projects and displays, began in 2014 with the support of the city’s Cultural Affairs department. Similar to Optima, Chicago’s Architecture Biennial celebrates the relationship that design and nature have with one another in urban environments.

Former Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanual described the Biennial as “an ode to the city’s past and an echo to our future.” This year’s theme, “The Available City” stands true to that sentiment. The 2021 edition of the Chicago Biennial “is a framework for a collaborative, community-led design approach that presents transformative possibilities for vacant urban spaces that are created with and for local residents.” Artistic Director, David Brown, a designer, educator, and researcher based at the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois focuses his work on non-hierarchical, flexible and variable approaches to urban design and has selected a group of accomplished collaborators to reflect his vision of an “Available City.” 

In order to achieve a collaborative and community-led design approach that transforms vacant urban spaces, the Biennial invites artists, architects and designers from Chicago and around the world to come together and share their creations, lead workshops and conversations, and create communal spaces where Chicagoans can come together and appreciate their city. Workshops will be held in neighborhoods across the city in which vacant spaces will be transformed into collective spaces. Digital programming will be used to activate these spaces. 

This year’s lineup of collaborators include creators from around the globe and creators who call Chicago home. Chicago-based architect, designer, and educator, Ania Jaworksi, will present a solo exhibition at Volume Gallery in which she pays homage to Chicago and urban life through the humor, pragmatism, and seduction that can be found in design. Other local contributors include Borderless Studio, a research-design practice that leads community-based projects addressing issues of social equity, Central Park Theater Restoration Committee, a group aiming to revive Chicago’s abandoned Central Park Theater, Englewood Nature Trail, a two-mile green infrastructure reuse project located in the Englewood neighborhood, in care of Black women, a creative initiative launched in Chicago’s south side focused on re-activating vacant spaces and creating “cartographies of care,” Open Architecture Chicago + Under the Grid led by Haman Cross III, Lawndale’s resident artist which leads and promotes design-efforts and creative projects in the Lawndale community, PORT, a public-realm design practice founded by Christopher Marcinkowski and Andrew Moddrell, and The Bittertang Farm, an architectural duo composed of Antonio Torres and Michael Loverich who explore architecture’s connection to living organisms. 

International contributors, ranging from Boston to South Africa to China, include Ana Miljački of the Critical Broadcasting Lab at MIT, Atelier Bow-Wow from Tokyo, Japan, Studio Ossidiana from Rotterdam, Netherlands and Venice, Italy, Matri-Archi(tecture) from Basel, Switzerland and Cape Town, South Africa, and Hood Design Studio from Oakland, California among numerous other designers and creatives from around the country and world. 

The 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial is open to the public starting September 17.

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.

Summertime in Chicago

Summertime in Chicago brings an abundance of sunshine, blue skies, and long days to spend exploring everything the city has to offer. Optima Signature, located just east of Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, is perfectly positioned to access the best of the city’s summer activities. Here are just a few of the many adventurous things to do this summer in Chicago:

Farmer’s Markets

Every Tuesday from 7 am – 2 pm through October 26, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) Farmer’s Market sets up in the plaza of the Museum of Contemporary Art just blocks away from Optima Signature. The SOAR market features a diverse array of local vendors and seasonal produce including Back of the Yards Coffee, a woman and Latinx owned coffee company based in Chicago’s south side, Bennison’s Bakery based out of the North Shore, flowers from Oosterhoff & Son Flowers, and numerous farms from Indiana and Wisconsin. 

Of course, a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art is always fun after a day at the market. The museum champions the new and unexpected in contemporary art and culture and has an exhibit on Chicago Comics: 1960s to Now through October 3.

Just a short bike or bus ride away, the Green City Market in Lincoln Park runs from 7 am to 1 pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays, May through October. The market features sustainable vendors and community programming. Chef’s and vendors offer wholesale pricing on their fresh products and many local restaurants use the market to obtain ingredients. 

After visiting the market, be sure to explore the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Lincoln Park Conservatory, and the nature boardwalk.

A group of kayaks floating down a body of water

The Chicago River

Spending a hot day on the water is a perfect Chicago summer activity. Optima Signature’s proximity to the Chicago River makes e-boating or kayaking a perfect outdoor activity. 

Urban Kayaks located on the Chicago River Walk provides guided kayak tours and rentals seven days a week through the end of the summer. Chicago Electric Boat Company, also located on the River Walk, offers environmentally-friendly electric boat rentals that can be exhilarating experiences for water novices and experts alike.

Chicago’s River Walk, open until 11 pm, offers beautiful views of the city and the river’s bridges, restaurants, and cafes, and is a perfect place to end a summer day.

For Chicago residents and visitors alike, the summer months are precious. So while we still have these long, warm days and sunny skies, make sure you venture out to enjoy the bounty at the iconic neighborhood farmers markets and the unique access to our namesake river!

person name goes here

Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL





    Acceptable file types: *.pdf | *.txt | *.doc, max-size: 2Mb