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Being a Good Neighbor Makes a Difference

With a commitment to community as one of our core beliefs at Optima®, it’s no surprise that we are tuned into the notion of neighborliness and what it means to be a good neighbor. We take great satisfaction in nurturing the desire for connection and engagement with residents across all of our communities and love to keep abreast with research that lends new insight into why it matters to know your neighbors.

In a recent Axios piece, published on July 27, 2022, Erica Pandey explores “The power of knowing your neighbors.” Drawing data from a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2019, here’s what we’ve learned:

A majority of Americans don’t know most of their neighbors — and they barely talk to the ones they do know.

Why it matters: Strong communities boost the health, happiness, and longevity of their residents. Befriending neighbors ensures a helping hand in times of need and provides new friends to explore your larger neighborhood. But over the last several decades, our connections with our neighbors have been fraying.

What’s happening: We’re leaving our homes with screens in our hands. And since the pandemic made us even less likely than we were before to stop and chat with new folks, most of the people living around us are strangers.

Optima Lakeview’s communal sports lounge, golf simulator and basketball/pickleball court

Thankfully, each of our Optima Communities supports plenty of opportunities to engage with fellow neighbors, whether you know them or not! We design spaces that inherently bring people closer to each other, closer to their environment and closer to themselves. This intention manifests itself from the thought-provoking artwork that fills the hallways of each community to the wealth of communal amenity spaces, including fully outfitted sports areas, movie theaters, party and game rooms and state-of-the-art fitness centers. 

Along with our state-of-the-art amenities, each of our onsite teams carefully curates a variety of social events and programs throughout the year. From hosting food trucks and music and cocktail nights to flower arranging courses and fitness classes, we take the time to understand each of our residents’ interests, so we can thoughtfully tailor our programming around them!

And because we not only see the value in having a tight-knit community within our walls but within our broader neighborhoods, we created the Optima® Connect Program. Through the program, residents in each of our multi-family communities receive exclusive benefits and discounts to local businesses around their larger communities, further fostering a friendly community ecosystem.

Supporting connection among our residents and neighbors is something we care deeply about at Optima. So, what’re you waiting for? Step outside and spark a conversation today!

How Optima Communities Support Hybrid and Remote Working

At Optima, each of our communities are thoughtfully curated to make everyday life extraordinary. Whether it’s the expansive fitness centers or our stunning sky decks, we’re dedicated to providing curated spaces and opportunities to make sure all residents feel right at home. One unique amenity in Optima communities that has become increasingly relevant is the robust set of hybrid and work-from-home options. Here are just a couple of ways our communities support these evergrowing work features: 

Allocated Work Spaces in Your Home

It can be challenging to separate your life and career when working remotely, which is why we design each of our residences to allow space for desks and separate work areas. Each extensive floor plan allows residents to customize their living areas to fit their needs, whether you require a separated office or a dedicated work corner. 

We also work to provide our residents with the best technology features, further empowering them to define the way they live. In Optima Lakeview, in particular, residents have access to WiredScore Home Gold certified technology that includes best-in-class digital connectivity features and dedicated media panels for telecommunications equipment. 

Access to Greenery 

Whether you find yourself in our Arizona or Illinois communities, each provides convenient access to greenery and flexible environments. While all feature vast outdoor space and greenery, Optima Kierland, Optima Sonoran Village and our upcoming Optima Verdana are all home to our signature vertical landscaping system, which plays a crucial role in molding a healthy and sustainable environment for residents.

Communal Amenities

Not only can residents establish workspaces in their own homes, but all of our communities also provide an array of amenities designed to enhance the remote work experience. From the dedicated conference and business rooms developed for more intimate interactions to the lively communal spaces like Optima Lakeview’s light-filled atrium or Kaleidoscope Juice in Optima Sonoran Village and Egg Harbor Cafe in Optima Signature. 

Our team also works to provide Optimized Service® in each community. Residents have access to in-home package delivery, grocery delivery and 24/7 virtual personal assistance, and in Optima Lakeview, the Kids’ Club includes an indoor children’s playroom. 

No matter where you find yourself working, we’re with you every step of the way to ensure you feel comfortable and supported.

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.

Why Biophilic Design Matters

Since Optima’s founding, we have thoughtfully developed environments where nature and architecture coexist. This principle of sustainability – known throughout architecture as biophilic design – is becoming increasingly popular across the world throughout all types of built environments.

The process of biophilic design isn’t anything new to the world of architecture; however, in recent years, the design principle has seen a renaissance. Today, biophilic design is used within modern architecture as a method to fulfill the inherent connection between humans and nature. 

Because our natural habitats have increasingly become built environments, designers and architects have discovered the significant value of adding biophilic elements into all kinds of structures to enhance the relationship between natural and built environments. The framework for designing these biophilic environments consists of employing both direct and indirect experiences of nature. Direct experiences incorporate everything from natural light, fresh air and organic landscapes, while indirect experiences include utilizing natural materials and colors and ecological attachments to a location. Everything from skylights to green walls to fountains all apply the conventions attached to the design principle. 

Health Benefits

Beyond creating connectivity to natural environments, biophilic design also supplies an ample amount of benefits to both its surroundings and those who inhabit them. One of the most prolific benefits attached to the design principle is the improvement of air quality. Designs that employ vibrant greenery absorb the natural toxins in the air, ultimately enhancing the atmosphere.

Having access to vegetation and other models of biophilia also has a direct impact on happiness and wellbeing. When design principles like natural light and ventilation are introduced into built environments, a greater appreciation forms – establishing a more welcoming, advantageous space. 

Biophilic Design in Optima

Throughout our communities at Optima, we use biophilic design to improve the lives of our residents and complement their beautiful surroundings and communities. In our latest project, Optima Lakeview, we’re employing biophilic design throughout many elements of the architecture.

The development features a stunning atrium that includes our signature vertical landscaping system within it. At the atrium’s top, an expansive skylight fills the space below it with an abundance of natural light. Optima Lakeview is also home to a variety of private terraces and setbacks featuring lush vegetation and ensuring residents a seamless transition from outdoor to indoor environment.

From the materials used in construction to the greenery placed throughout a building, more and more architects are discovering how to include biophilic design within their builds, connecting their built environment with the natural world around them.

Cycle the Arts in Scottsdale

Thanks to the city’s deep appreciation for the arts, Scottsdale is home to some of the most visionary public art in the country. And, with warm weather here and summer approaching, there is no better way to experience the city’s inspiring works than on a bike! Here is our guide to Cycle the Arts Scottsdale 2022:

Cycle the Arts Scottsdale is hosted by Scottsdale Public Art and the City of Scottsdale. The annual cycling event is back for the first time since 2019 to showcase some of the city’s exciting public art displays and sculptures. And because this is the event’s first time back in more than three years, participants will be able to hear about some of Scottsdale’s newest public art additions. 

The leisurely 9-mile bike ride is free and perfect for the whole family. It kicks off on Sunday, April 3, and check-in is at 8:30 a.m. at Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. While the event is expected to last until noon, the ride on Scottsdale’s award-winning bike paths will only take about two hours. 

Industrial Pipe Wave, Christopher Fennel, 2015, Courtesy of Scottsdale Public Art
Industrial Pipe Wave, Christopher Fennel, 2015, Courtesy of Scottsdale Public Art

The event includes 17 works from the city’s public art collection, including Jack Knife, Industrial Pipe Wave and Terraced Cascade. Each stop will include information about the art provided by Scottsdale Public Art staff and board members and possibly feature the artists themselves.

Made for both bike riders and art enthusiasts, Cycle the Arts Scottsdale is the perfect event for those looking to explore and learn more about the vibrant community. If you plan to participate, please bring your own helmet and water, and RSVP on Scottsdale Public Art’s website here.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Best Day Trips Close to the Chicago Area

Although Chicago is a huge city with plenty to explore, sometimes you just need a break from the bustle and noise. For our fellow Chicago residents who might need a weekend getaway this summer, here are the best day trips close to the Chicago area:

Image of a trail at Indiana Dunes National Park with snow covering part of the sand.
Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park

Chicago boasts some great beaches, but for something different, Indiana Dunes National Park is worth the drive over state borders. The park features over three miles of lakeshore lined with sand dunes, marshes, grasslands and forests. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try their Three Dune Challenge and climb three of their tallest dunes in one day. 

Rockford, IL

Less than 100 miles northwest of Chicago, Rockford’s charm is just a quick road trip away. You can’t miss the Anderson Japanese Gardens, one of North America’s premiere Japanese gardens with over 12 acres of streams, waterfalls, koi-filled ponds and more. The Discovery Center Museum or the Burpee Museum of Natural History are great spots for kids and families to explore.

Milwaukee Art Museum stands lit up in a foggy background
Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee, WI

Whether you get there by car or Amtrak train, Milwaukee’s downtown has something for everyone. Murals and public art line the streets full of boutique shops, perfect for exploring without an agenda. Don’t miss the Milwaukee Art Museum, one of the city’s many museums, for the exhibits and the architecture of the building itself. Milwaukee is also a city for beer enthusiasts, with a few historic gems related to the Pabst Brewing Company.

Oak Park, IL

This one is right in Chicago’s suburbs, but we can’t skip over Oak Park’s ties to legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. His home and studio are in Oak Park, as are a series of other Prairie-style homes he designed. Take one of the many architectural tours dedicated to Wright’s work in the neighborhood.

Whether you’re exploring new museums, different scenery or a piece of architecture history, we hope this inspires you to find your new favorite getaway from the city!

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Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL





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