Community Amenity Design Trends

Community amenity design is continually evolving. In today’s competitive marketplace, unique amenities are a great way for communities to set themselves apart from the competition. It is such an exciting time to be in the industry, that we decided to take a step back and share some of our favorite trends with you. At KGA, we’ve been hard at work designing community amenities of all sizes: from a new, 9,000 SF community center in Aurora to conceptualizing a multi-phase community project with multiple buildings and amenities in Brighton. We also caught up with our friend Brad Haigh, principal at Norris Design, who shared some interesting trends the Norris Design team is seeing. From ‘cruise directors’ to pollinator parks, we are excited to see new communities continually pushing the boundaries of amenity offerings and share some of our favorite trends with you.

Gathering Spaces for Food Trucks

Colorado is home to dozens of delicious food trucks, and communities are taking notice. “The foodie movement is going strong in Colorado, and Coloradans love the opportunity to try new food trucks,” says KGA’s John Guilliams. The execution is simple, but hugely appreciated by residents. Provide a place in the community within easy walking or biking distance of most homes for food trucks to gather. This could be an extension of the community center parking lot or next to a park or other area with seating or picnic tables. Put together a rotating menu of food trucks and you’ve created a great opportunity for residents to meet each other, enjoy a delicious meal and foster community.

Hire a ‘Cruise Director’

Rather than letting the community center stand empty 5 days a week, some master planned communities are hiring event planners to plan events for residents. As humans, we have a fundamental need to connect with other people and to feel a sense of belonging – especially in this digital age of emails and text messages. A community event planner is a great way to activate your community space and give residents the chance to meet each other through book clubs, yoga, cooking classes, knitting groups, wine tasting…we could go on, but we know you get the idea!

Tap Rooms or Tasting Rooms

Create a fun gathering space dedicated to bringing local businesses into your community. One of our favorites is a tap room with a rotating selection of locally made beers, ciders and wines. Create a space with ambiance that residents will enjoy spending time at. Maybe even organize a monthly trivia night! With so many new master planned communities located in the suburbs, far removed from any sort of bar scene, residents appreciate not having to get in the car and drive somewhere just to grab a drink or two.  Another fun option is a café with coffee and ice cream from local businesses, or healthy locally-sourced ‘grab-and-go’ options for lunch or dinner.

Community Center with Tap Room

Example of tap room in a master planned community that we visited in Southern California on a recent housing inspiration tour.

Pollinator Parks

“The Norris Design team is designing a community center that targets both families moving up to a new lifestyle and Baby Boomers sizing down. Both of these demographic groups expect well-designed gathering areas and amenities, but don’t need high-end finishes that they’ll see reflected in their home price or HOA dues,” says Brad Haigh. Creating unique and impactful places such as a Pollinator Park are a popular option. The Park’s plant palettes are designed to attract butterflies and bees, and active bee hives and demonstrations provide a constant learning experience for residents. There is even the potential to harvest honey from the bee hives.

Pollinator Park. Courtesy of Norris Design.

The Pollinator park has a large hive shaped overhead steel structure and hexagon paver plaza spaces that carry out the theme. The plant palette includes Agastache, Beebalm, Catmint, Cranesbill, Goldenrod, Liatris, Penstemon, Russian Sage, Sedum “Autumn Joy”, Thyme, and Yarrow.

Smaller Pools and Bigger Pool Decks

Pools are being used less for lap swimming and more for a quick dip to cool off. “The deck and the pool edges are the spaces that seem to get activated most. We see more engagement with wet decks and soaking shelves than the traditional lap pool,” says Brad Haigh. This trend is a win-win for everyone, since it is cost effective, conserves water and better serves the needs of the residents.

The Hub at Denver Connection. Rendering by Norris Design.

For the Hub at Denver Connection, the Norris Design team utilized a larger hot tub, a smaller traditional pool and a smaller kid’s splash pool. This created three separate outdoor rooms that coexist in the pool deck space.

Outdoor Community Venues

Large outdoor venues for hosting bands or movie nights are a unique way to differentiate your community. “Residents love the opportunity to walk to an outdoor concert or movie in the summer. It is a great place to meet neighbors and let your kids run around in a family friendly environment,” says KGA’s Kiley Baham. “When the space isn’t being used, it doubles as a great place for soccer or baseball games,” he adds.

This outdoor public performance venue is part of a multi-phase community project that is currently on the boards at KGA Studio Architects

Dog Parks and Dog Washes

Coloradans love their dogs! A dog park within walking distance is every pet owners dream, and a welcome addition to any community. Plus, nothing fosters conversation like laughing over puppy antics or discussing the best place to take Fido to doggie daycare. Appeal to pet owners even more by offering a dog wash. Just because someone lives in a spacious home, doesn’t mean they want to deal with the hassle of washing Fido in their bath tub. While dog washes have typically been limited to multi-family amenities, we believe they would be a popular addition to any community with pet owners.

Bike Repair

Encourage cycling and mountain biking by providing residents with a bike shop. “A bike shop is a great opportunity for residents with similar interests to congregate and work on their bikes,” says Kiley Baham. “I’m an avid mountain biker myself, I’d love a space nearby to meet-up with my buddies, have a drink, and work on our bikes,” he adds.

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