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Shuffleboard 101: A Blend of History, Fun, and Community

Welcome to Shuffleboard 101! At Optima®, we’re not just about sleek designs and stunning architecture; we’re about creating vibrant communities where fun and engagement are part of daily life. And what better way to bring people together than a timeless game of shuffleboard? Let’s slide into the history of this classic game and explore how it plays a significant role in our community.

A Stroll Down Memory Lane
Shuffleboard, a game with roots dating back to 15th-century England, has come a long way. Originating from a game called “shove-groat,” where players slid coins across a table, shuffleboard has evolved into a beloved pastime worldwide. It’s fascinating to think that this game, which started with people pushing coins in taverns, now brings laughter and friendly competition to our modern community spaces at Optima.

Modern shuffleboard is a blend of skill, strategy, and, most important, fun. The goal is simple: players use cues to slide weighted discs down a narrow court, aiming to score points by landing the discs within designated areas. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned player, shuffleboard is accessible to all, making it a perfect game for community interaction.

Cruise ship shuffleboard (vintage photo)
Cruise ship shuffleboard Credit: WLouis E. “”Slim”” Gordon Special Collection Photo

Shuffleboard at Optima®: More Than Just a Game
In social spaces at Optima Kierland Apartments® and Optima Signature®, shuffleboard is a community catalyst, allowing residents to gather for friendly matches, fostering connections, and relaxation. It’s not just about scoring points; it’s about the smiles shared, the conversations sparked, and the sense of belonging that comes from engaging in a shared activity.

Incorporating amenities like shuffleboard into our living spaces aligns perfectly with our philosophy. We believe in crafting environments that encourage interaction, relaxation, and a sense of community. The courts are a testament to this belief, offering a space where residents can unwind and connect in a laid-back, enjoyable setting.

Join the Fun!
Whether you’re an aficionado or new to the game, we invite you to join in the fun at Optima. Discover the joys of this timeless game, meet your neighbors, and experience firsthand how simple pleasures can enrich our lives and strengthen our community. At Optima, it’s not just about where you live, but how you live—and shuffleboard is a part of that vibrant, engaging lifestyle.

So, grab your pucks, step up to the court, and let the good times slide!

A Guide to Chicago’s 2024 Restaurant Week

For the past seventeen years, Chicago Restaurant Week has celebrated the culinary feats and explorations of the city’s best and brightest restaurants, and the beloved event is back for 2024! The 17-day festivity is a celebration of the city’s award-winning culinary scene. From January 19 to February 4, participants will have the opportunity to indulge in an endless list of Chicago’s most delectable eats. Here is our guide to Chicago Restaurant Week 2024.

The flavor-filled event features more than 350 restaurants, representing nearly every cuisine from across the world. Participating restaurants are found in both the city and its suburbs. So, whether you’re in Optima Lakeview, Optima Signature or Optima Verdana, there’s sure to be an abundance of choices around. Each restaurant will feature curated prix fixe menus filled with a variety of tasty eats.

Brunch at Mia Frencasca, Credit: Kurman Communications flickr
Brunch at Mia Frencasca, Credit: Kurman Communications flickr

The multi-course meals vary in price, costing $25 for brunch or lunch and $42 or $59 for dinner (depending on the location). Many restaurants this year are also continuing to take advantage of both takeout and delivery options for those looking to enjoy their meals from home. 

Whether you’re craving French cuisine from Aboyer in Wilmette, pasta from Mia Francesa in Lakeview, or cocktails and the classics from Current Chicago in Streeterville, there are more than enough options to last you through the full Chicago Restaurant Week experience. It’s a great way to get to know your Chicago communities, and a great way to support local businesses.

For those planning to savor some of the mouth-watering cuisines, Choose Chicago has created a list of participating restaurants, complete with menus and the opportunity to book tables throughout the event. And for those of us unsure of where to start, they have also curated lists of must-try restaurants in and around the city that you can find here

Furniture Spotlight: Verner Panton Cloverleaf Sofa

As we continue our exploration of the carefully curated modernist furnishings at Optima communities, we’re excited to spotlight a distinctive piece gracing the lobby of Optima Lakeview: the Cloverleaf Sofa by Verner Panton. This iconic piece not only enhances the aesthetic of our space but also embodies the innovative spirit of its creator.

Verner Panton, renowned for his futuristic design approach, revolutionized the way we think about furniture and space. His works, characterized by bold colors and futuristic forms, made him a seminal figure in 20th-century design. Considered one of Denmark’s most notable furniture and interior designers, many of Verner’s designs, including the Cloverleaf Sofa, Cone Chair, Panton Chair, Shell Lamp and Panthella Lamp still remain popular and in production today. 

The Cloverleaf Sofa, designed by Panton in 1969/1970 as part of the Visiona 2 exhibition, is meant to be more than just a seating arrangement. It’s a conversation starter and a space transformer. Resembling the sections of a cloverleaf, its interlocking parts and modular build allows for various configurations, making it a versatile addition to our communities. 

The Cloverleaf Sofa at Optima Lakeview

Panton’s mastery in blending form and function is evident in the Cloverleaf Sofa. Its snake-like ergonomic design ensures comfort, while its aesthetic appeal makes it a focal point in any setting. Crafted with top-tier materials, this sofa is not just a testament to Panton’s design genius but also to the enduring quality of his creations.

Installed in the heart of Optima Lakeview, the Cloverleaf Sofa does more than just transform the space. It connects us to a time when designers like Panton were pushing the boundaries of form and function, echoing the technological progress of the late 20th century.

The Cloverleaf Sofa at Optima Lakeview
The Cloverleaf Sofa at Optima Lakeview

Today, the Cloverleaf Sofa is not just a piece of furniture; it’s a symbol of commitment to integrating artistic and functional designs in our living spaces. It exemplifies how classic design can coexist with modern living, encouraging interaction and adding a touch of whimsy to our daily lives.

As our residents and visitors experience the comfort and style of the Cloverleaf Sofa, they engage with a piece of design history that continues to inspire and delight. It stands as a vibrant example of how Optima embraces innovative design elements, creating spaces that are not just visually appealing but also enriching.

2023: Year in Review

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

Awards

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

Optima Verdana Phase 2 Rendering
Optima Verdana Phase 2 Rendering

Projects and Properties

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

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

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

Optima McDowell Mountain Village Rendering
Optima McDowell Mountain Village Rendering

Culture

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

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

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

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

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

Ellison Keomaka Art at 7190 Optima Kierland

Revisit the artistic genius of Ellison Keomaka, where he offers a deep dive into his vibrant creations for Optima Kierland 7190. The mixture of artwork includes a dynamic collaboration with David Hovey Sr. and features pieces that draw from his past work at Optima Lakeview and take inspiration from Alexander Calder’s famous mobile sculptures. Ready for another colorful journey with Ellison? Dive in below: 

What did the creative process entail when first conceiving and planning the artwork for Optima Kierland 7190? 

When I started by creating artwork for Optima Kierland 7190, I aimed to maintain a bold and vibrant aesthetic. The Mobiles series was the first series I did for 7190 that included the mobile likeness. As their name suggests, I took inspiration from Alexander Calder’s mobile styles and then added more of my own style with the texture and colors. Other works, like the Primary series, took inspiration from previous artwork I’ve done for Optima Lakeview.

MISC-ELE-002 by Ellison Keomaka at 7190 Optima Kierland
MISC-ELE-002 by Ellison Keomaka at 7190 Optima Kierland

What role do color and texture play in these works? 

Unlike some of my other artwork throughout the Optima Communities, all of the work I created for 7190 was done freehand with inks and paint. David Hovey Sr. has a particular affinity for bold colors, so I wanted to integrate that as a theme throughout my work. The Silhouette series is one of the boldest works I created for 7190. What makes this series stand out are the striking black backgrounds that are meant to hang on a white wall. I thought it framed the pieces well, giving the impression of a window through which you can view the colors behind.

From left to right, HYP-08 and HYP-06 by Ellison Keomaka at 7190 Optima Kierland
From left to right, HYP-08 and HYP-06 by Ellison Keomaka at 7190 Optima Kierland

You collaborated with David Hovey Sr. on one series at 7190 Optima Kierland. Can you describe this process and how these pieces differ from the other works in 7190? 

David Hovey Sr. and I bounced around several ideas in the Free Form series before landing on a style for the Celebration series. He had visited to review some pieces, and during his visit, I suggested the idea of incorporating a black line in them. As I commenced drawing the lines, we collaborated, and I created four or five smaller pieces in that style. It was a wonderful experience to work alongside David in this way. 

After sketching the lines and proposing some freeform shapes, David suggested adding some color, which we experimented with. It evolved into a fun reciprocal process that eventually yielded these vibrant pieces. These artworks blend influences from various fields, including automotive pinstriping and a touch of street art. In-person, they span 18 feet in width combined, making them quite impactful. There was no room for error with the black line, and since any adjustments would be noticeable, each piece had to be finalized in one take, freehand with inks and paint. 

L-REE-0024 by Ellison Keomaka in 7190 Optima Kierland
L-REE-0024 by Ellison Keomaka in 7190 Optima Kierland

Is there anything else we should know about the creative process for these pieces or the work itself? 

Managing the sheer volume of pieces is challenging and an art project in its own right. It requires shifting your mindset and thinking on a different scale constantly. For example, the Curiosity and Free Form series have so many individual pieces in the collection that my goal was to ensure that each stood out with its own unique look or style. So, these have been very interesting challenges that I find extremely rewarding.

Culinary Modernism: Cloth and Flame

From mountain sides and deserts to urban rooftops and beyond, Cloth & Flame has been curating extraordinary dining experiences as experiential journeys — transcending the bounds of traditional restaurants and leading diners into a world where nature, architecture, and gourmet cuisine intertwine.

Cloth & Flame is the brainchild of the Phoenix-based husband-and-wife team, Matt Cooley & Olivia Laux, visionaries who believe that dining could be so much more than just food on a plate. To them, it’s about fostering connections and creating memories. With events in breathtaking locations across all 50 states, from Alaskan mountainsides and Arizona deserts to Oregon forests, their reach is as vast as their vision. Their events offer a respite from the digital age’s hustle, transporting guests to serene locales.

Cloth and Flame Event in Arizona. Photo: Cloth and Flame

In a recent event promoted as “Flagstaff Fadeway,” Cloth & Flame brought an exclusive long-table dinner to the stunning lawn of the High Country Motor Lodge in Flagstaff, part of a weekend music festival inspired by the beauty of Northern Arizona. The festival offered its few hundred guests the opportunity to experience deeply intimate musical performances, kicking off with a five-course menu.

In an era when dinner events can be predictable, routine affairs, Cloth & Flame breaks the mold, ensuring that every event is a surprise and that no two experiences are the same. And with all of the outdoor venues, Cloth & Flame demonstrates profound respect for the environment. They look for spectacular settings and provide the landowners an alternative income source, potentially preserving these areas from development. Moreover, a portion of their dinner proceeds is directed to conservancies dedicated to protecting our planet’s wild and wonderful spaces.

Aspen Forest, Arizona. Photo: Hailey Golich

At Cloth & Flame dinners, strangers become friends under starlit skies, conversations flow unhindered, and in this temporary commune, bonds are forged that last a lifetime. Cloth & Flame’s invitation is open to everyone. Whether you have a culinary dream to chase or are simply open to exploring theirs, gastronomic adventure is on the horizon.

Cloth & Flame serves up a return to authenticity, to the raw beauty of nature, and to the simple pleasure of a meal shared in good company. So, the next time you yearn for a break from the ordinary, remember that somewhere, atop a mountain or in the heart of a desert, a table awaits you. And at this table, you’ll not just find food, but an experience, a story, and perhaps, a piece of yourself that you never knew existed.

Interested in embarking on a culinary journey with Cloth & Flame? Follow the link here.

The Soleri Bridge and Plaza

Modern structures that serve as both functional and breathtaking forms of art speak to us at Optima®, including the Soleri Bridge and Plaza at the Scottsdale Waterfront, in close proximity to Optima Sonoran Village®. The bridge and its adjoining plaza, envisioned by the renowned artist, architect, and philosopher Paolo Soleri, have become emblems of Scottsdale’s artistic soul, resonating deeply with locals and tourists alike.

The bridge is an architectural spectacle that functions as a dynamic, organic solar calendar. Anchored by two towering 64-foot pylons, its south side spans 27 feet, tapering to 18 feet on the north. Its precise alignment with true north allows it to play a mesmerizing game with the sun. The 6-inch gap between the pylons lets the sun cast an ever-changing shaft of light, marking solar events as the seasons shift. On the summer solstice, the sun at its zenith leaves no shadow, while on the winter solstice, the shadow stretches its longest, almost reaching the bridge itself. 

Soleri Solar Calendar and Solstice Shadow. Photo: Jennifer Gill

Adjacent to the bridge, the plaza is an expansive 22,000-square-foot expanse, adorned with monolithic panels reminiscent of the aesthetics of Cosanti and Arcosanti. Each of these earth-cast panels, crafted meticulously over eight months using desert earth, water, and cement, weighs 3,500 pounds, and bears the intricate handwork of Soleri and his personal assistant, Roger Tomalty. The panels frame the plaza and lead towards the Goldwater Bell assembly, a fusion of Soleri’s commitment to architecture and ecology.

The story behind the project is as captivating as the structures themselves. A luminary in his field, Soleri has brought to life a concept he terms “arcology.” The bridge and plaza exemplify this philosophy, sharing an appreciation for our inherent connection to the sun and nature. Despite designing bridges for six decades, the Soleri Bridge was a first-of-its-kind commission for the then 91-year-old maestro.

Initiated by Scottsdale Public Art in 1990, the journey of the bridge and plaza from conception to completion was one of evolution and collaboration. As the canal’s surroundings transformed over two decades, so did the bridge’s design. The addition of the Waterfront Residences and commercial areas in 2007 provided the bridge with a context. Following funding and city approvals in 2008, the project took flight.

Soleri Bridge and Goldwater Bell. Photo: Yisong Yue

The unveiling of the bridge on December 11, 2010, was nothing short of a spectacle. A thousand-strong crowd converged on Old Town Scottsdale to witness the dedication. The event, a week shy of the winter solstice, showcased the bridge’s solar prowess, as attendees observed the sun’s shadow move between the pylons. 

The Soleri Bridge and Plaza encapsulate Scottsdale’s rich heritage, blending history with contemporary artistry. They stand as a testament to a city that cherishes the past, celebrates the present, and looks forward to the future, all while emphasizing the harmony between humanity and nature.

The Scottsdale Civic Center

The Scottsdale Civic Center, situated in Old Town, serves as a cultural hub for the entire city, including our residents at Optima Sonoran Village®. It seamlessly balances Scottsdale’s historical identity as “The West’s Most Western Town” with modern influences, making it a popular focal point where the city’s heritage intertwines with its more recent cultural and artistic expressions. 

This urban oasis is surrounded by some of Scottsdale’s most vital facilities, including City Hall, Civic Center Library, Center for the Performing Arts, and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s both a retail center and a retreat, marked by its lush greenery, tranquil fountains, and eclectic sculptures. You can also enjoy views of Camelback Mountain, which becomes particularly captivating at dusk, offering a serene environment for relaxation and cultural immersion.

Civic Center City Hall. Photo: SAH Archipedia

The Civic Center dates back to 1966 when a master plan by local architectural firm Bennie M. Gonzales Associates was adopted, emphasizing the seat of town governance as “an open invitation for citizens to participate in their government.” Bennie M. Gonzales, with his distinct Southwestern modernist style, led the planning and design process during the center’s foundational years. His designs are characterized by their harmony with the environment and their use of natural materials, which can be seen in the kiva-like City Hall, the Civic Center Library (built in 1968) and the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (constructed in 1975).

Scottsdale Civic Center Library. Photo: Kevin Bondelli

Decades later, award-winning architect Will Bruder further shaped the Civic Center, designing the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (constructed in 1999). His design paid homage to the curved facades of the neighboring Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Sculptures including Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture and George-Ann Tognoni’s The Yearlings further amplify the center’s art scene. Adjacent to them, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, with its stages and galleries, has hosted notable events like the Arizona Concours d’Elegance, enriching the center’s aesthetic and cultural offerings.

George-Ann Tognoni’s The Yearlings at the west entrance to the Civic Center.
Photo: Scottsdale Public A

The Scottsdale Civic Center has recently seen major renovations, with its western two-thirds reopening back in January 2023. With plans to showcase 80 annual outdoor events over the next several years, ranging from national touring acts and orchestras to dance ensembles and community events, the Civic Center remains committed to cultural vibrancy and communal engagement.

Keen on exploring upcoming Civic Center events? Follow the link here for more information.

Chicago Architectural Biennial 2023: This Is a Rehearsal

As Chicago’s architectural landscape continually evolves, the fifth edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial offers a fresh, reflective look into the heart of urban transformation. Beginning September 21, 2023, CB5 invites locals and visitors alike to participate in a series of immersive events and discussions. Here’s what you can expect from the 2023 Biennial This Is a Rehearsal.

Diving into this year’s theme, This Is a Rehearsal, serves as an exciting reminder that cities, much like the instants of life, are in endless evolution. Through this lens, CB5 emphasizes the importance of continuous dialogue, trial, and reinvention in urban designs. CB5 explores how countries around the world share political, environmental and economic issues and how each may address them differently through art, architecture and public involvement. It’s not just about the buildings but the stories they tell and the communities they foster.

Floating Museum, a Chicago-based arts collective, is the lead artistic team behind CB5, pushing boundaries and charting new territories in urban discourse. Their integrative approach promises an engaging mix of conversations, challenging conventions, and setting the stage for tomorrow’s architectural landscape. CB5 expands on Floating Museums’ existing beliefs and work, all exploring the relationships between the built environment and ourselves. 

With over 80 contributors from Chicago and the global stage, the Biennial is a testament to diverse, inventive thought. The contributors, ranging from artists and architects to educators and thinkers, breathe life into various corners of the city, from Lakeview’s artful streets to North Lawndale’s historic boulevards. It’s more than just an exhibition; it’s a city-wide celebration of innovation. 

Local contributors include Grow Greater Englewood, Urban Growers Collective, Project Onward, the Poetry Foundation and the Southside Community Art Center. Contributors from around the United States and the globe include Storefront for Art and Architecture, the Buell Center at Columbia University, SpaceShift and Stoss Landscape Urbanism

Marking its commencement on September 21st, the Biennial unfolds various installations across the city. A special opening celebration is slated for November 1st, showcasing extensive exhibitions at renowned locations like the Chicago Cultural Center and the Graham Foundation. The programs invite viewers to engage in conversations around food and material production, water reclamation and discussions around construction and power in relation to land use and rights. Whether you’re a seasoned architect, a design enthusiast, or just a curious mind, there’s something for everyone.

Highlights Near Optima Verdana®: Green Bay Trail

For Optima Verdana® residents who have a penchant for outdoor activities and scenic views, the Green Bay Trail is a must-visit. This 9-mile asphalt and crushed stone trail runs parallel with Chicago’s Metra commuter rail line and weaves through Kenilworth, Winnetka, and Highland Park. Flanked by eateries, shops, parks, and stunning residences, the trail offers a unique blend of nature and urban vibes for bikers and hikers alike!

What’s especially captivating about the Green Bay Trail is its heritage. It stands on what was once the route of the former Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee electric railroad. Following its path, visitors are essentially retracing the steps of history from downtown Wilmette to Highland Park. Beyond being a route for history buffs, the Trail also provides families with even the youngest of riders a leisurely day out. 

While daily commuters use Green Bay Trail to reach Metra stations, tourists and locals frequent it for recreational purposes to access Starting from Wilmette, you might be immediately captivated by the pristine beachfront atmosphere, juxtaposed beautifully with bustling business districts. And if approaching Highland Park on an early summer evening, you might get a glimpse of the euphoric energy emanating from Ravinia®, one of the region’s most celebrated music venues.

Green Bay Trail. Photo Credit: Illinois Bone and Joint Institute

For those looking to extend the adventure, at the Braeside Metra Station, the trail offers a gateway to the Chicago Botanical Gardens via the North Branch Trail. And for those who conclude their journey at the St. John’s Avenue trailhead, they’ll find a slew of amenities like restrooms, playgrounds, and parks, courtesy of the adjacent rail line. 

Living at Optima Verdana® isn’t just about unrivaled luxury; it’s about experiencing the richness of the community and embracing the outdoors. So, dive deep into history, bask in nature, or simply hit the Green Bay Trail for an invigorating walk or relaxing ride. No matter the season, weather or time of day, new experiences await each and every time.

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