Luis Arambula

Emerging Trends in Residential and Commercial Design

Carrie Rossenfeld Professional Services

“Future proofing” and lower parking ratios are two growing trends in today’s design realm, Luis Arambula and Mark Kim of MVE + Partners tell SoCal Real Estate.

The Irvine, California–based architectural, design, and planning firm, recently promoted the pair: Arambula to VP of architecture and Kim to director of architecture. The promotions mark a period of growth for the firm, which is adding an office in San Jose, California, and has also promoted seven key team members within the organization.

We spoke with them about their new roles as well as the design trends they’re noticing in their practice and the current growth trend within architecture and design firms today.

Mark Kim | Images courtesy MVE + Partners

SoCal Real Estate: What are you each looking forward to accomplishing in your new roles?
My role at MVE is to be available, to provide mentorship, and to provide guidance to our staff. Watching the growth and development of our team is something I look forward to, and it will be my measure of success in my new role. MVE is at the forefront of adopting new technology in our practice of architecture, and I look forward to implementing new technology to meet the challenges of project management and design. My goal is to make project management part of our daily practice.

Arambula: MVE + Partners opened an office in Downtown L.A. in the summer of 2016. As the new leader of this office, I’m excited about the opportunities that our presence Downtown has created for the firm in terms of the new clients that we’ve been able to serve and the higher-density urban projects that we are developing for them. I’m looking forward to overseeing the continued growth of the L.A. office and contributing to the overall growth of the firm as we expand our influence in Northern California, as well as in the broader western region.

You each focus on a variety of property types. What design trends are you noticing within each of them?
Since 2010, we’ve seen tremendous activity in the housing sector, and it has been a major growth engine for our economy. With increased activity and the scarcity of land resources, there has been a lot of pressure to increase housing density, especially along the transportation corridors.

Another important trend is the growth in the development of affordable housing. Many jurisdictions are encouraging affordable housing by providing increased density and eliminating restrictions.

“Future proofing” is another important trend and is one of many factors to consider in meeting the demands of constantly evolving technology. These demands include automated parking, automated cars, and ride-sharing applications. Future proofing is a critical component of almost all projects we are currently designing.

Arambula: Current trends in multifamily housing developments have been geared towards serving the millennial generation, which according to a recent article by The Pew Research Center, and population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau, is poised to surpass the baby boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation. The attitudinal and behavioral differences of the millennials have manifested themselves not only in the types of multifamily projects that are being developed, but also in the character and location of these projects. The 1980s trend towards suburbanization and urban sprawl has reversed as a new generation of working adults is preferring to live in ever densifying urban centers. Their propensity to delay marriage and family formation, as well as the increasingly cost-prohibitive nature of single-family housing, has led to a greater demand for rental units that are neighborhood-oriented and amenitized to suit their lifestyles. Our recent projects in and around Downtown are seeing smaller units with a mix favoring studios and one-bedroom apartments, occupied roof decks to provide on-site open space, and lower parking ratios as ridesharing and proximity to mass transit become increasing popular.

There seems to be a lot of growth within architecture and planning firms today. To what do you attribute this growth?
The growth within architecture and planning firms today is attributable to the three “Es”: economy, economy, and economy. The recession stunted growth in Southern California for a decade, and now we are seeing a strong rebound. Southern California has historically struggled with housing shortages, and now, with a booming economy attracting new residents, the housing shortage is more critical than ever. Investment opportunities arising from the recession have been a principal driver of growth within architecture and planning firms today.

Arambula: The current economic climate is clearly the most significant factor. Years of record low interest rates fueling real estate capital markets and strong expectations for continued economic growth are great for the architecture and construction industries.

What else should our readers know about MVE + Partners?
MVE + Partners is a continually evolving firm with a track record of success spanning 45 years. You can see MVE’s footprint throughout California with projects demonstrating our talent and success. Our portfolio ranges from low-density to high-density housing and boasts master planning of some of the most successful developments in California’s history. Our institutional portfolio encompasses the largest zero-net-energy apartment community in the nation and student housing for colleges and universities throughout California. The work that we’ve accomplished over the past 45 years defines our commitment to success. Our current projects are more diverse and complex than at any other time in our history, and we look forward to meeting those challenges with an accomplished new leadership team in place. MVE’s long history and track record of success has truly made us exceptional by design.

Arambula: MVE + Partners is a different firm today than it was when I joined the firm over 20 years ago. We’ve always been fortunate to have an incredibly talented and dedicated staff who strive to do great work and support each other in the process to push the limits of what we can accomplish for our clients. In recent years, we’ve taken the same passion for design excellence and applied it to a variety of project types for a broader base of clients, both private and public. We’ve embraced new technologies to improve the quality and efficiency of our delivery to respond to the ever-growing demands of our clients to fast track schedules and provide exceptional value for our services. While we are still regarded as a leader in multifamily design, we are multidimensional in our experience, our abilities, and our approach.