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2023 Design Trends: Designing The World of Tomorrow

The ways in which we live, move, and work are changing fast, and we, at Optima®, believe that up-and-coming architectural trends continue to address many of the challenges faced in modern life. Some solutions focus on more space, more storage, less clutter, and more flexibility. Others address affordable rent, resistance to climate change, and sustainability. These trends, along with a  myriad of others, inspire us and those who are at the forefront of designing the world of tomorrow. Here are some of the trends on the horizon in 2023.

Biophilic Urbanism

Biophilia, a term coined by Erich Fromm in 1964, is the human interaction and appreciation for nature. In 2023, this trend is continually on the rise as we seek to develop buildings that are ecologically friendly in their use of resources. Biophilic design can revolutionize the way we manage stress, increase productivity within offices and educational spaces, and improve mental health, through the use of nature inside and outside of buildings.

While biophilic design is very much at the forefront of architectural trends, it has been central to our work at Optima for decades. Our passionate connection between the built environment and nature continues to be as fluid as it is concrete, reflected in our signature innovation of vertical landscaping. The widespread adoption of this essential design principle, we are excited to welcome others into the process of bringing people and nature closer together.

Sonoran Village®
Optima Sonoran Village®, Vertical Landscaping

Modular Construction

Modular construction has been at the forefront of Optima’s DCHGLOBAL Building System since its conception in 2009 . We began our experimentation with modular construction with Relic Rock, reflecting our commitment to building homes flexibly — in horizontal and vertical directions — sustainably and efficiently anywhere, anytime. 

As part of the broader architectural community seeking modular solutions around the globe, we’re excited by the opportunity to celebrate sustainability and versatility as core values at Optima, while ensuring enduring aesthetics and affordability.

Sonoran Desert, AZ
Relic Rock, Sonoran Desert, AZ

Smart Materials

Through the integration of smart devices in our homes, cars, phones, and wrists comes Smart Materials. Recent developments provide that these materials could eventually respond to changes in pressure, temperature, moisture, and UV radiation, giving architects unfathomable flexibility. Along with an expanded toolkit for designing and building.

Our respect for materiality and space is important for the 360-degree approach to sustainability, and the inclusion of these new and unexplored materials gets us excited about their potential for the environment at large. Part of our role at Optima has been ensuring the environment remains protected with the inclusion of smart materials such as bird glass or green concrete within many of our buildings.

Bird glass
Bird Safe Glass

Community-Centered Design

It is a universal truth that the built environment functions better if those who use it are involved in the process of creation. Designing buildings with community in mind makes for rich and diverse environments where people can be themselves, while also giving them a sense of ownership in the places where they live, play, and work.  As we enter 2023, we are seeing greater collaboration between architects, developers and their communities across the globe — much the way Optima has partnered with the cities, villages and neighborhoods where we have put down roots for more than 40 years.

 

Scottsdale Public Art: Impulsion

As part of our ongoing public art series, we’ve been exploring exceptional creations to be found across Scottsdale such as Water to Water, Pinball Wizard and today’s breathtaking focus, Impulsion.

Project Background

The project was commissioned by Scottsdale Public Art, and installed in December, 2014. It was announced that Impulsion, a work created by Jeff Zischke, had been chosen from 200 applicants as the new sculpture for the entrance of one of the most recognized equestrian centers in the country, WestWorld. The city of Scottsdale undertook an expansion that added 40,000 square feet of space to host special events and renovated their equidome, and wanted to celebrate the newly-opened space with a public art commission.

Today, you’ll find that the equestrian experience at WestWorld is complemented by any number of non-equestrian events ranging from dog shows to auto auctions, including the Barrett-Jackson Car Show. These various events provide great financial benefits to the community while contributing to Scottsdale’s treasure trove of things to do. 

Construction of Impulsion

Power, Nobility, and Beauty

Made of stainless steel tubing, the reflective quality of Impulsion exhibits the brilliance of an equestrian structure floating in formation. The artist’s desire was to create an iconic sculpture to welcome visitors with a grand entry experience as they step inside North Hall at WestWorld. 

Construction of Impulsion

Impulsion is an amalgamation of several horse breeds, projecting the excitement of explosive movement in equine form. In a recent interview, Zischke explains, “At the fundamental level, my intention is to create a site-specific work that is unique, educational, and interactive. To create a catalyst for an experience that tells visitors that Scottsdale is a place on the move. A place containing all the power of the large, elegant horse they are gazing at.” 

Jeff Zischke is an Arizona artist who works in both the public and private art sectors, creating sculptures, mixed media and urban transformation pieces. His viewpoint on the environment he lives in is addressed through varying installations centered on organic shapes and modern technology. 

Next time you’re out and about in your hometown or visiting Scottsdale from outside the community, don’t miss an excursion to WestWorld and check out Impulsion!

Growing Your Own Herbs at Optima Verdana®

The stellar Rooftop Sky Deck and communal courtyard at Optima Verdana® abound with gorgeous greenspace and reflective hardscape surfaces to reduce heat. Our residents can delight in the outdoors year-round for both recreation and relaxation. And for those with green thumbs, dedicated planters atop the Sky Deck will be home to a seasonal herb garden.


Check your kitchen cabinets, your cupboards, your drawers! If you spend any time cooking, you probably have dried thyme, basil, and even a bit of parsley or oregano. These earthly delights known as herbs are easily accessible from most grocery stores, but imagine what it would be like if you grew them yourself?

In spite of their simplicity, herb gardens are magical places and offer many gifts — from cooking, to medicine, to unique fragrances. Growing your own herbs also serves as an exercise in gratification, and so much more:

Great for All Skill Levels

First, herb gardens are great for beginner gardeners because they require minimal effort and are easier to grow than vegetables. They don’t require large plots of land, and grow well in pots, planters and other containers. Herbs don’t need much fertilizing, which is a huge plus for beginners, and they can handle a wide range of temperatures that’s ideal for Chicago’s seasons. 

Herbs
Basil, parsely, thyme, and rosemary

Redefining the Word “Fresh”

When your recipes call for fresh herbs, what could be more delightful — and satisfying — than heading to your herb garden with a pair of kitchen shears and picking or cutting what you need? And because you can harvest your herbs while you’re cooking, they will always be fresh and fragrant.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Knowing that you have easy access to what you’re growing, you may find yourself with an appetite for expanding your repertoire with dishes that specifically call for fresh herbs. This is a real treat, since the flavors are so much more robust and the option to have full leaves, stems and flowers in your preparations is a real bonus. 

The herb garden also offers the opportunity to experiment with new flavor combinations. Take advantage of your herbs and try out a new recipe or two. Try growing herbs that are uncharted territory for you, this will likely lead to taking new risks in your cooking. Which in turn will enrich your life with new and flavorful experiences.

As you head into the fall and winter months, you can harvest your herbs and dry them indoors. This will tide you over until spring arrives and it’s time to plant again.

Creating A Healthy, Budding Community

The herb garden at Optima Verdana® is part of the powerful community experience of connecting with others around a shared purpose. All it takes is one seed to sow a relationship and build a budding new friendship with a neighbor. This convenience of access offers residents physical exercise, fresh air and the meditative qualities of connecting to the earth. 

If you’re looking for ideas for dishes that will put your fresh herbs in the spotlight at your next dinner or event, The Food Network offers quite a few!

Exploring Scottsdale: Barrett-Jackson, The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auction

If you are a car enthusiast or a lover of all things automobile, you might want to buckle up for this one! 

Throughout its rich 45-year history, the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company has become world-renowned for offering the finest, most prestigious selection of collector cars at auction, outstanding professional service, and capturing sales success second to none. Barrett-Jackson began as a modest company, started by Russ Jackson and Tom Barrett, two car aficionados in Scottsdale, AZ who met through a car advertisement in the mid-1960’s. 

Tom Barrett wanted to sell his 1933 Cadillac V16 Town Car and the most interested buyer happened to be Russ Jackson. That deal was never struck between the two but instead, a lifelong friendship and partnership was formed.

In 1967, Russ Jackson and Tom Barrett hosted their first car auction, which was called “Fiesta de los Elegantes.” Fiesta de los Elegantes was held as a fundraiser to donate to local charities, which included the community arts and the Scottsdale Public Libraries.

Mercedes 770 Phaeton

In 1971, Russ and Tom presented the company’s first car collector auction, which featured classic autos from the two men’s private collections. The star of the auction was a Mercedes 770 Phaeton that sold for $153,000 — and this grabbed the attention of auto collectors from around the world. From there, the sale of this rare vehicle set the Barrett-Jackson name into motion around the world.

Speeding towards today, Barrett-Jackson specializes in providing products and services to classic and collector car owners and automotive enthusiasts around the world. Its iconic events, branded as The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions, take place in Scottsdale, Palm Beach, Houston, and Las Vegas, where hundreds of the most sought-after, unique and valuable automobiles parade in front of a global audience. Take a look at a few of the most awesome cars shown and auctioned off at the 2022 Barrett-Jackson Car Auction:

1958 Chevrolet Corvette Custom Topless Roadster
1960 Chevrolet Corvette Custom Convertible

Be a part of the world’s greatest classic car auction in 2023, just a stone’s throw from Optima Kierland, Optima Sonoran Village and Optima Paradise Valley. And even if you might not be holding a paddle to bid on one of these sweet gems, take the chance to explore the city of Scottsdale, the auction venue – the Westworld of Scottsdale, and immerse yourself in car memorabilia all week long.

Tickets for Barrett-Jackson The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auction, taking place from Saturday, January 21, through Sunday, January 29, at WestWorld.

The Role of the Courtyard in Optima® Communities

In a former Forever Modern post, we shared a brief history of the courtyard. From their earliest uses around 6000 BC in the Jordan Valley, courtyards have evolved into physical settings that enable people to interact harmoniously with others — and with their natural surroundings.

Within the Optima® culture, we never grow tired of exploring relevant, resonant expressions of the courtyard within the communities we design and build. Over the past several years, we have turned our attention to the role of courtyards in our projects in Chicago — Optima Lakeview® and Optima Verdana® — as an integral element in creating an elevated sense of home.

Take the atrium at Optima Lakeview®. Sharing the same properties as a courtyard, this distinctive architectural feature is a stunning landscaped interior volume that runs through the building’s 7-story core and is enclosed by a fixed in-place skylight at the roof to bring natural light into the building’s interior. The residential units and building amenities are arranged around the atrium. In its central role, the atrium serves as a public space flooded with light, filled with plants and flowers, and outfitted with comfortable seating where residents and their guests can linger and enjoy the outdoors, even with the Midwest’s seasons might not make it hospitable to be outdoors.

A rendering of Optima Verdana’s lounge and residential courtyard

Exemplifying our passion for opportunities to engage with nature and organic environments is a vibrantly landscaped courtyard found in the heart of Optima Verdana® in Wilmette. The open-air space serves as a lush oasis for residents and is home to 7’ high garden walls, verdant trees, restful seating and more than 1,500 light-filled square feet. Beyond the tranquility and sheer beauty of the abundant plantings in the courtyard, residents enjoy remarkable access to reoxygenating air, natural light and the absence of ambient noise. It’s no surprise that the building is a proud recipient of two Green Globes from the prestigious Green Globes® Building Certification program, acknowledging that the building’s courtyard design contributes to the larger eco-friendly environment!  

At Optima, we celebrate the power of connection — to nature and to each other — as we express it through timeless architecture complimenting the built environment.

Conceptualizing the Future of Furniture

During the spring semester of 2022, the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted Course 4.041 — Advanced Product Design. The focus of the course was to “develop concepts of sustainability for a more ecologically-responsible and digitally-enabled future.” According to the course syllabus, students would be asked to “reinterpret and conceive of new typologies, redefining what ‘furniture’ means from the ground-up.” Today, we’re spotlighting just a handful of their future facing designs. 

To make the course even more interesting, MIT teamed up with Emeco, an iconic American furniture company to provide students with access to Emeco’s manufacturing technology as they conceptualized sustainable furniture. The students’ design solutions have been dubbed The Next 150-year Chair, based on Emeco’s 1006 Navy chair developed in 1944, which, according to the manufacturer, has a “150-year lifespan.”

Associate Professor Skylar Tibbits explained that “Today, a 150-year chair means making something that lasts a long time, which is a great thing to do. But the question is whether that will be the same for the next 150 years – should the goal still be to make things that last forever? That’s one approach, but maybe there’s something that could be infinitely recyclable instead or something that’s modular and reconfigurable.”

La Junta designed by María Risueño Dominguez

Over the spring term, five students explored their unique approaches to answering the question. Their results featured a number of complete furniture pieces and components that were exhibited at Emeco House, the company’s converted 1940s sewing shop, in Venice, CA in late November. 

María Risueño Dominguez developed a furniture component based on longevity. Her research on furniture consumption and interviews with people involved in the furniture industry resulted in a concept called La Junta – a cast-aluminum joint with multiple different inserts shaped to fit a variety of components.

Rewoven Chair designed by Faith Jones

Amelia Lee developed a product designed to last through different stages of childhood. It is made from a single sheet of recycled HDPE. Modeled on a rocking chair, the piece can be turned on its side to function as a table.

Zain Karsan set out to improve metal 3D printing technology for the frames of his chairs, focusing on a technique for dispensing molten material at high-speed to explore new ways to think about form and joining parts.

Faith Jones designed the ReWoven Chair, with an aluminum frame and a recycled (and replaceable) cotton sling, as an exploration into how to maintain comfort and sustainability.

Jo Pierre’s interest in maintaining comfort within dense physical settings resulted in a chair called Enhanced Privacy — a plastic partition designed for domestic spaces that includes a hanging sheet of plastic that can be filled with water to block sound and diffuse light.

As both a design process and a collaboration between academia and industry, The Next 150-year Chair Project established a refreshing model for how we might conceptualize the future of furniture while pushing the boundaries of sustainable design and novel materials.

Celebrating the Holidays Around Optima Communities

Both Chicago and Scottsdale provide endless opportunities for entertainment throughout the year, but the holiday season is when both transform into a wonderland of their own. From the traditional Christkindlmarket in Chicago to ZooLights in Scottsdale, here are a few of the many activities you can find in Chicago and Scottsdale this season: 

Chicago 

Chicago’s Christkindlemarket is a tradition beloved by locals and tourists alike. The festival takes inspiration from one of the first outdoor exchanges of its kind from 16th century Nuremberg, Germany, which shares its namesake. Both the Daley Plaza location downtown and the Gallagher Way location in Wrigleyville offer an abundance of holiday spirit, jovial music, festive activities, eccentric shops and traditional cuisines. 

Just a short walk for Optima Lakeview residents, Gallagher Way’s festivities expand beyond the beloved Christkindlemarket. This year’s expanded attractions include a variety of winter-themed rides and games, a tubing ice slide and the Gallagher Ice Rink, all found within the iconic Wrigley Field. 

For Optima Signature residents and others who find themselves downtown, the festivities continue. The Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon and the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink are must-stops for anyone looking for breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline. And while you’re there, make sure to visit the 55-foot Chicago Christmas Tree and Magnificent Mile Lights lining Michigan Avenue. 

Phoenix Zoo ZooLights

Scottsdale

While Scottsdale might not get the same brisk air and snowfall Chicago does in the winter, the city still embraces the season with a variety of festive events and experiences. One of the city’s most beloved holiday traditions is the Phoenix Zoo’s ZooLights. The immersive experience surrounds visitors with millions of vibrant lights, including a new 50-foot LED tree. 

Found only two miles North of Optima Kierland Apartments, Christmas at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is another must-stop for anyone looking to escape to a winter wonderland. The holiday highlights include a 6,000-square-foot ice skating rink, sledding, train rides, S’mores Land and an Elf Academy. 

The holiday months don’t last long. So before time runs out, take advantage of all the enchanting seasonal opportunities found throughout Chicago and Scottsdale!

The Benefits of Living With a View

It’s hard not to picture floor-to-ceiling windows with abundant light, a grand sky deck or a private terrace with unmatched views when thinking of a dream home. And whether you live in a gorgeous desertscape or a bustling metropolitan, nothing beats panoramic views of the surrounding environment. Since one of our favorite aspects of creating elevated living environments is celebrating and embracing the surrounding atmosphere, today we’re exploring the benefits of living with a view. 

Location has always been an integral part of our development process at Optima. From the breathtaking mountains that surround Optima Sonoran Village and Optima Kierland Apartments & Optima McDowell Mountain Village to the endless city and lake views at Optima Signature, Optima Verdana and Optima Lakeview, each of our communities offers its own unique views, but all come with the same enriching benefits. 

Apart from the picturesque scenes, living with a view, especially one of nature like mountains or water, has a powerful effect on reducing stress. Rejuvenation and refreshment are all but guaranteed with access to a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle around you, like at any of Optima’s sky decks. From the fresh air to the panoramic views from sunset to sunrise, stress decreases, and your health is automatically enhanced. 

Optima Lakeview’s sky deck view of the Chicago skyline

For creatives, little is more inspiring than a sprawling view. Similar to how living with a view boosts certain areas of our health, it also promotes happiness and creative thinking. While mountains catalyze creative expression, water views, in particular, will leave you with a “blue mind effect”. According to marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols living on or near water shifts typical “red mind” feelings, like tension and anxiety, into “blue mind” feelings of relaxation and cheerfulness. 

Whether you’re looking for creative inspiration, need destress or just want to live with breathtaking perspectives of your surroundings, living with a view comes with a number of unknown perks, all of which can be experienced in any of Optima’s communities.

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!

Trending Now: A Brief History of Ping-Pong

If you’re unsure how to spend an open afternoon or a few hours of free time, look no further than an Optima® community! Ping-pong is just one of the many entertaining activities included in each of our multi-family developments. And while you might remember playing the lively game as a kid, what you might not know is its rich history. Today, we’re exploring the ever-evolving story of ping-pong.

The popular pastime of ping-pong that we know today arose in England in the late 19th century. At the time, it was more widely known as table tennis. The fast-paced game originated in Victorian England as an adaptation of the popular lawn tennis game to transfer the activity inside for the cold winter. And unlike the simple ball and paddle used today, participants in the game’s early years would get creative with their equipment, regularly using champagne corks as the ball, cigar boxes as the paddle and books as the net. 

However, it wasn’t until 1890 that the pastime enjoyed by the wealthy class of England attracted a greater appeal when David Foster patented the first table tennis-style game. It quickly became a favorite across Europe, and Hungary held the first national championship in 1897. During this time, the game became termed ‘ping-pong’, originating from the onomatopoeic sound of the bat striking the ball and the ball hitting the table. 

The Optima Lakeview® game room, featuring a ping-pong table

While the sport slowed down in the early 20th century due to a lack of governance, it experienced a revival in the 1920s following the founding of the International Federation of Table Tennis and its first-ever world championships. After the game equipment transitioned from a hard bat to a sponge bat in the mid-20th century, elite players from Japan and China helped to revive interest in the sport once again. Concurrently, ping-pong diplomacy advanced, contributing to enhanced relationships with Eastern and Western nations. 

While many don’t know the rich history behind the sport today, ping-pong’s dominant presence across the world remains. Seoul, South Korea, was the city to first introduce ping-pong to the Olympics in 1988, and following that, the activity gradually turned professional in the 1990s. Today, it remains the most practiced sport in China and an integral part of the country’s culture.  

A semi final ping-pong match between Chin and Korea at the 2012 London Olympics

Ping-pong’s attraction is rooted in more than its entertainment value, as it’s known to boost the health of both the body and the mind. Everything from the speed to the ball placement is crucial in the game, which is why routine players are highly skilled in creative and critical thinking. The fast back and forths and short distance nature of the sport also help with improved flexibility, hand-eye coordination and balance over time. 

Constantly bringing together people from different walks of life, the game of ping-pong embodies our commitment to connection and wellness within each of our communities.

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