For luxury apartment developers and operators, having hotel-like amenities throughout their buildings today is no longer optional – it is a must, just to keep up with the competition.
“Whether you’re developing new product or trying to retrofit an existing deal, everyone is trying to out-do the guy next door,” says Dean Holmes, chief operating officer at Philadelphia-based Madison Apartment Group, which manages 16,000 apartment units in 13 states. “The days of set-it-and-forget-it amenity programming are a thing of the past—annual redecorating and reamenitizing costs are on the rise.”
For that reason, many apartment operators today strive to put in amenities that look and feel lux, but can be changed easily over time without breaking the bank. One design element they’re increasingly turning to today – with an eye on tomorrow, as well – is architectural coiled wire fabric systems.
Take Vector, an ultrahip mid-rise property in Hillsboro, Ore., in the heart of the “Silicon Forest” outside Portland, that caters to young tech professionals. The building uses coiled wire fabric partitions as defining features in the fitness center, lobby, and lounge areas.
Interior designer Garrison Hullinger chose Cascade Architectural’s Fabricoil coiled wire fabric system, which offers various weaves and finishes, because it gave him a flexibility that other, more fixed elements couldn’t.
“We loved the opportunity to change up the colors to fit the space, and even the weave, to add interest or give more privacy,” says Hullinger. “It was the perfect solution for our client who asked for a space that provided some intimate moments within the public spaces, without being too closed off. The Fabricoil system created some dimension and provided a metal element, without coming off as heavy or weighted.”
Coiled wire fabric differs from traditional woven mesh as it is made from interlocking strands of wire shaped into a coil form. That gives it structure, and makes it springy, which means it can handle tension and compression without losing its form. That helps keep the cost down, compared to traditional woven mesh, and makes it lighter, too.
Because it allows for airflow while providing a visual barrier that’s partially transparent, designers often use it as a divider or screen to create spaces within spaces. And while coiled wire fabric can add a modern touch to any interior, its simultaneous softening effect is another reason apartment operators and designers like working with the product.
Lori Liggett, marketing director for developer Holland Partner Group, says Fabricoil was used at Hub 9, another luxury mid-rise property, specifically because it helped round out some of the more modern design elements of the building.
“We are thrilled with the end result,” says Liggett. “Not only did it create and define an intimate setting within a public area, it added another layer of texture and interest, while at the same time successfully softening some of the linear characteristics often associated with a modern space. Without a doubt, it will be a memory point for those who visit or reside in our building.”
But perhaps the most lasting benefit will be updating the amenities over time. When one color or pattern becomes overused, another panel can easily be swapped into place, which ought to help apartment operators keep up in the ever-increasing amenities competition, at a fraction of the cost.