One of the ways we honor the Forever Modern promise and keep it relevant at Optima is by curating both public and residential spaces in our communities with timeless furniture. Take a stroll through any of our Optima communities and you will find the Table E-1027 in beautiful settings of pristine Modernist furniture. Let’s take a closer look.
Table E-1027 is an adjustable steel and glass table designed by Irish designer Eileen Gray in 1927. Originally created for her home in the south of France by the same name, the table has since become one of Gray’s most famous designs.
The table’s design celebrates the simplicity of Modernist ideals of form and function. The table consists of two concentric forms of tubular stainless steel that are joined by two vertical tubes to adjust the height — with one of the forms serving as an adjustable arm and tempered glass functioning as the table’s surface. The story behind the design is that Gray originally conceived it for her sister, who routinely ate breakfast in bed. With a traylike surface that could be positioned comfortably over the bed, her sister could enjoy her morning routine while avoiding dropping crumbs on the linens.
Without question, Table E-1027 is one of Gray’s most famous pieces, even though she was a prolific designer. In the decades since it became available commercially, Table E-1027 has come to represent the epitome of Modernist design. It is multipurpose, adjustable and portable. It works just as well in a bedroom as in a living room or sitting area. And finally, it brings refinement and tastefulness to any interior setting.
At Optima, we’re proud to include Table E-1027 in a host of spaces and arrangements for our residents and their visitors to enjoy.
Community means everything to us at Optima, which is why we bring thoughtful design to each project, committed to supporting and uplifting every resident. Historically, architecture has been a dominant tool for many to build and sustain communities, and recently, community architecture has taken on a more prominent role in the discourse surrounding living environments. Learn more about community architecture and some of the practice’s most visionary examples below:
What is Community Architecture?
Community architecture is a collaborative building experience between both an architect and the users of the built space. The movement originated in the mid-20th century when architects across the world began to see that people wanted more say in shaping what they lived in and how they lived.
Because it was such a radical idea at its inception, some architects who took charge of the movement experienced ridicule. Minette de Silva, in particular, was unsupported in her efforts to build Sri Lanka’s first Public Housing Project in collaboration with its residents. The result, however, was a triumphant success, like many other community architecture projects across the world.
What originated as a mere art project in 2011 has turned into one of the world’s most functional community-built projects. The intricate design behind the main building, the bakehouse, operates as a place of creative production and a gathering space for communal interactions.
The structure appears still under construction or repair, but the wooden skeleton and window-filled walls intentionally mimic the past. Both the structure’s versatile purpose and its boat-like canopy design are odes to the country’s rich history, reflecting on the cultural significance of Bakehouses and maritime history.
From serving as a hunting ground for the indigenous Osage nation to being transformed into a cheese factory, the land on which The Momentary resides in Bentonville, Arkansas, has a long, rich history. Today, however, the land is home to the adaptive reuse art museum. The original structure – which is still 80% preserved – was completed in 1947, and, with the help of Wheeler Kearns Architects, the newly constructed museum finished construction in 2020.
Instead of trying to gloss camouflage the branches of history rooted in The Momentary’s land, they intentionally embraced them, designing an accessible hub that supports community members through cultural programming, education, engagement and enjoyment.
In 2020, The Night Ministry – an organization encompassing health care, housing, outreach and other social services – welcomed its new home, also designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects, in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. The former manufacturing facility became transformed into the organization’s headquarters and is home to their overnight shelter, The Crib.
Parts of the original manufacturing facility were repurposed to reduce waste when constructing the new headquarters, including flooring, windows and heavy timber. Vibrant murals around the interior alongside multipurpose programming spaces and a communal kitchen and dining space also help to reflect the collaborative nature The Night Ministry displays.
The best architecture attracts people and allows them to feel a true sense of ownership of their living environment. And, because more and more architects are discovering the importance of doing just that in their projects, community architecture shows no signs of slowing down.
Chicago has always had a deep relationship with the unique architecture that has filled the city. And as we continue to add our own mark throughout Chicago with our forward-facing architecture, we love to look back on the iconic builds that have shaped the city’s culture since its founding. Today, we’re exploring one of the city’s most recognizable – although often forgotten – designs, the Chicago bungalow.
Chicago saw a dramatic boom in its population in the early 20th century. From 1910 to 1930, the city added more than one million residents. Black Americans and rural-to-urban migrants were rushing to Chicago in hopes of finding a job in one of the many industries dominating the city.
As Chicago’s population continued to grow, the older neighborhoods located near Lake Michigan became increasingly dense, encouraging investors to buy land on the open prairies found on the city’s edge. Architects quickly began developing adaptations of the traditional bungalow to better fit the size of Chicago’s lots and the weather that comes with the midwest.
The trend’s popularity gained momentum quickly, and the Chicago bungalow dominated the city’s residential architecture for the next three decades. By 1930, more than 80,000 bungalows surrounded the city, building a linkage to the city’s communities from Lincoln Square to South Chicago.
Constructed With Pride
At the time, the Chicago bungalow was the manifestation of the American dream for middle-class migrants and immigrants in the city. The homes were heavily inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement and featured thoughtful craftsmanship and simplicity throughout their design.
Specific design elements separated bungalows from other residential builds and helped them become one of the most recognizable architectural styles throughout the city. Each home featured red, brown, yellow or orange bricks and large windows to draw in an abundance of natural light. Hipped roofs helped shape the one-and-a-half-story houses, and porches were included to create a seamless transition from the residences to the tree-lined streets at their footing.
Chicago bungalows also contained modern amenities for the time, which included central heating, electricity and plumbing, but were affordable to build, with costs from $5,000 to $7,500. While the iconic style fell out of vogue later in the century, they still hold a significant place in the city’s architectural story. As the builds turn 100 years old, many residents are realizing the importance the dwellings have played in Chicago’s culture.
Illinois’ Department of Housing created the Chicago Bungalow Association to foster more appreciation for the historic buildings through various financial and educational resources, including how-to’s for restorations and energy retrofits. Owners of the single-family homes are eligible to apply for membership and benefits on the association’s website here.
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.
While global contests like Redesign the Worldare encouraging designers to envision radical solutions to end environmental issues through built communities, some architects have begun to bring regenerative building to life.
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.
As we kick off 2022, we want to take a moment to reflect on how we’ve continued to grow, learn and serve others over the past 12 months. Here are just a few highlights:
We were honored to receive a total of 9 awards this year! Our design and architecture were recognized with the AIA Chicago Firm of the Year Award, AIA Chicago Design Excellence Awards – Distinguished Building Award (Arizona Courtyard House), and Chicago Athenaeum’s American Architecture Award twice (Optima Kierland and Optima Sonoran Village).
Art Baril, our Maintenance Manager at Optima Sonoran Village was awarded the Gold Facilities and Maintenance Manager of the Year by Multi-Housing News at their 2021 MNH Excellence Awards.
Our culture and values were also acknowledged in 2021 with the AZCentral Top Companies 2021 Award and Best Places to Work in Chicago for the second year in a row.
To see the full 2021 lineup, visit our awards page here.
Projects and Properties
This was a significant year for development, construction, leasing and more at Optima. In Chicago, we continued construction at Optima Lakeview, which is nearly complete. The project is the first multifamily development to achieve the WiredScore Home Gold Certification in North America. We also returned to our roots on the North Shore where we broke ground on our newest development, Optima Verdana, and plan to introduce our signature vertical landscaping system to the Midwest.
In Arizona, our leasing team worked tirelessly to lease up our new 7140 tower at Optima Kierland Apartments, and our second condo building, 7180 Optima Kierland, closed out. We also broke ground on the fifth and final residential tower at Optima Kierland, 7190 Optima Kierland which will open in 2023.
Throughout 2021 our culture at Optima continued to thrive through richly rewarding avenues of kinship and connection. We celebrated the autumn season with our second annual pumpkin carving and costume contest, observed Diwali, the festival of lights, and shared laughs and stories while celebrating our successful year at company outings at Topgolf and a Chicago Cubs Game. We also enjoyed the return of in-person happy hours during the year.
Our team continued to embrace and internalize our shared values more than ever. We gave back to the communities we live in by volunteering at the Skokie Lagoons on the Chicago North Shore, picking up trash at the boat launch. We also took the opportunity to acknowledge eight Optima employees with our Core Values Award for their exceptional representation of our beliefs throughout their work.
We can’t thank our leadership, team members and Optima communities enough for making 2021 one to remember. Heading into 2022, we are excited to continue innovating and achieving great things together.
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.
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 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.
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 leadsto 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!
American designer, architect, and sculptor, Maya Lin was born in 1959 in Athens, Ohio. Lin rose to national recognition in 1981 as an undergraduate at Yale University when she won a public design competition at 21 years old for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington DC.
One of 1,422 submissions, including those from established design firms, Lin’s design included a black granite wall with the names of those lost in Vietnam carved into its face. Lin’s design intended to “take a knife and cut into the earth, opening it up, and with the passage of time, the violence and pain would heal.”
The design was controversial for its lack of tradition and because of Lin’s Asian ethnicity and youth. Today, Lin’s design for the Vietnam Memorial is a pilgrimage site for the friends, family, and comrades of those who died in Vietnam and is an integral part of the National Mall’s landscape.
In many ways, Lin identifies as a “designer” rather than an “architect.” Her works focus on the relationship between people and nature, and how people will interact with the space and nature they take up in the future. Lin’s work emphasizes human emotion rather than politics, making the viewer aware of their surroundings in not just a physical, but also psychological way.
Lin’s 1995 design for Wave Field at the University of Michigan is inspired by the motion of fluids and ocean waves. Lin wanted to freeze the motion of water and movement of earth in an interactive earth piece that engaged the viewer more physically than a photograph. Wave Field was Lin’s first piece of earth work and was followed by her 2004 piece, Eleven Minute Line, in Sweden which is composed of a walkway that takes eleven minutes to traverse.
Lin’s project, “Ghost Forest” is currently on display in New York City’s Madison Square Park. Composed of a forest of dead or “ghost” trees, the installation gives the viewer an eerie vision of an earth damaged from climate change in the not-so-distant future.
In 2009, Lin was awarded the National Medal of the Arts by President Barack Obama. In 2016, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Other awards include the 1999 Rome Prize, an election to the National Women’s Hall of Fame, The American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the 2014 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize among numerous other recognitions.
Lin resides in New York City and also has a home in rural Colorado. She is represented by Pace Gallery in New York City and continues to run her own studio.
Saunas have been health staples in cultures around the world for thousands of years. The oldest saunas, found in Finland, are thought to date from around 2,000 BC and used stones to create high temperatures and dry heat in the winters. In Korea, domed structures often warmed by kilns appeared in literature as early as the 15th century. In the Orkney’s of Scotland, stone structures thought to incorporate the use of steam date back to the neolithic age.
In modern times, the most common saunas used in western culture originate from Northern Europe and have temperatures around 212 degrees Fahrenheit and relatively low humidity. They remain today a staple of health and wellness, and can be found at spas, resorts, poolsides, gyms, and even private homes and bathrooms.
Saunas are known for their numerous health benefits. When an individual spends time in a sauna, the heat causes their heartbeat to increase and their blood vessels to widen, improving circulation. Saunas are comforting, calm spaces that promote relaxation and, paired with the improvement of circulation, can reduce stress levels and improve overall cardiovascular wellbeing.
Dry saunas, especially, are known for their positive impact on heart health. They also reduce the symptoms of rheumatic diseases such as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Dry saunas are known for relieving skin conditions such as the itchiness from psoriasis. There is some evidence that dry saunas also may improve athletic performance.
When it comes to enjoying a sauna, for optimal benefits, most experts recommend around fifteen minutes per sitting and allowing your body time to rehydrate and cool down before resuming normal activities.
Saunas are a wonderful way to relax and boost both cardiovascular and overall health. The use of saunas is an ages-old practice that prioritizes bodily and mental health, spans around the globe, and persists today.
Denise Scott Brown knew from the age of five that she wanted to be an architect. Born in 1931 Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Scott Brown pursued her dream by spending her summers working for architects and studying at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.
In 1952, Scott Brown moved to London to work for modernist architect, Frederick Gibberd. While in London, Scott Brown won admission to the prestigious Architectural Association School of Architecture before moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1958 to study at the University of Pennsylvania’s planning department and obtain a master’s degree in city planning and architecture.
In 1967, Scott Brown joined Robert Venturi’s architectural firm, Venturi and Raunch, where she became principal in charge of planning in 1969. Scott Brown’s approach to architecture with Venturi was to understand a city in terms of social, economic, and cultural perspectives and to use these perspectives a set of complex systems in which to build a structure.
With Venturi, Scott Brown designed the Bryn Mawr College Campus Center as well as a campus plan in 1997 which considered the campus’s physical character as originally shaped by famous planners and architects Calvert Vaux, Frederick Olmsted, Louis Kahn, and more. The student body of Bryn Mawr College, having grown, needed an expanded campus, and Scott Brown planned an expansion that celebrated the campus’s original orthogonal pattern while accommodating the students’ needs.
Another of Scott Brown’s designs is for the Japanese Nikko Hotel chain, in which Scott Brown merged the ideals of western comfort with Japanese Kimono patterns to celebrate the heritage of the hotel chain while catering to the western audience.
In 1989, Venturi and Raunch was renamed to Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, celebrating Scott Brown’s contributions to the firm. The firm is known as one of the most influential architecture firms of its time and is celebrated for radical theories of design while approaching its practice clearly and comprehensively.
In 1991, Robert Venturi was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, while Scott Brown was not recognized for her contributions to Venturi’s work. Scott Brown boycotted the award ceremony. In 2013, a student organization titled Women in Design started by Caroline Amory James and Arielle Assouline-Lichten at the Harvard School of Design started a petition for Scott Brown to receive joint recognition for the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Though Scott Brown has still not been awarded joint recognition for the Pritzker Prize, in 2017, she won the prestigious Jane Dew Prize.
Throughout her career, Scott Brown struggled to be recognized as an equal partner at a male-dominated firm. In 1975, Scott Brown wrote an essay titled “Room at the Top? Sexism and the Star System in Architecture,” though Scott Brown did not publish the essay until 1989 out of fear of damaging her career. The essay became an immediate hit, and Scott Brown has continued to advocate for women in architecture throughout her life.
Vertical landscaping is a signature feature across Optima communities. In Arizona, we’re easily recognized by the lush greenery that makes itself a key element of the facade at Optima Camelview Village and Optima Sonoran Village. Most recently, we’ve even strategized how to bring our vertical landscaping to the inclement midwestern climate, with plans to incorporate it at our latest development in Wilmette, Optima Verdana.
Besides providing aesthetic value through added beauty and privacy for residents, our vertical landscaping system also serves another important purpose: bringing a broad array of environmental benefits to the natural environments in which we build.
The impact of our vertical landscaping system is something we calculated carefully through extensive design exploration, engineering and a multi-year research collaboration with Arizona State University.
The system, with self-containing irrigation and drainage, provides a haven for urban wildlife, promotes evaporative cooling, re-oxygenates the air, reduces dust and smog levels, reduces ambient noise, detains stormwater and thermally insulates and shields residents from the desert sun, all of which contributes to a sustainable urban environment.
Residents and community members alike also get to experience the direct impact of being surrounded by nature, with the vertical landscaping system serving as a connection to nature. Wherever this connection is made, it fosters a lifelong appreciation for the environment around us, and helps us all to stay mindful of the role we play in keeping that environment safe.