Multifamily Amenities and Services: The Contactless Age

For this month’s blog, we are sharing our thoughts on the multifamily community amenities and services that have sprung from the rise of the “contactless” age.

We get asked all the time what we think are the latest and greatest amenities and services in multifamily. Because we pride ourselves on designing amenities and services that are based on location and demographic, there is really no blanket answer. However, what we have seen trending is an increasing demand for “contactless” tech-focused amenities and services. While we think that tech-driven efficiencies are fantastic, the downside is that oftentimes by the time a multifamily project breaks ground, the tech is already outdated. So, the question becomes, is it possible to specify smart systems that can grow and update as fast as the tech world does?

While that seems like a question better answered by software developers than designers, we can share from years of experience in senior living, hospitality, and multifamily verticals, that great SERVICE never goes out of style…nor will it require spending hours on the phone with IT.

Deca Camperdown Luxury Apartments – South Carolina


For those considering a fully contactless community, we must ask ourselves, do residents really WANT to live in a completely contactless building with no interaction with community staff? We’re not so sure!

A few months ago, Melissa attended a breakfast where a consultant mentioned working on a building that will be completely devoid of a leasing agent or any human staff on site. Those who want to take a tour of the building will sign up online and self-tour. If a resident has a maintenance issue, the company managing the building would send someone from another building nearby to assist. This concept was cool in theory and no doubt saved the management group some overhead from a headcount perspective, but doesn’t the lack of immediate human help seem a little cold?

Riverside St. Johns Apartments – Florida

We believe that hospitable service and face to face interactions with leasing agents or community managers creates a sense of place and community for a resident which can  in turn increase retention rates. Today’s multifamily residents are savvy shoppers who gravitate toward a multifamily development largely due to the convenient amenities throughout the building. So, no matter how nicely designed the remaining amenity areas or the level of finish in the units, when multifamily projects start sacrificing key amenities in order to value engineer or save some overhead, prospective residents who want to feel like they’re getting the appropriate level of attention in exchange for their monthly payments may feel slighted.

While we are huge fans of cool new tech, let’s not forsake fantastic hospitality-inspired amenities and services in our quest for efficiency!

The Jaxon Apartments – Florida


Setting the leasing agent discussion aside, we have witnessed some great innovation in the multifamily space that have resonated with residents, largely borrowed from hospitality. Concepts that come to mind include communal work areas, dog walking services, health and wellness centers, rooftop bars and pools, and thoughtful collaborations and pop ups with local businesses. We see these types of amenities continue to do well in most markets and surprise, surprise most of these require people in some capacity, which is no coincidence.

The Jaxon Apartments – Florida

Additionally, there are a few “contactless” amenities we’ve grown to love because they do make resident’s lives easier and still feel very personalized. We agree it does feel pretty chic to be able to “reserve” pool or gym time conveniently from your phone, and services like dry cleaning drop offs, on-site Amazon lockers or dedicated fridges for Uber Eats deliveries have become the norm. Our challenge then is to seamlessly incorporate these ideas but still make the design sexy and playful so that residents can access these services but aren’t turned off by a row of metal lockers or a giant commercial fridge.  We do this by getting with the developers and/or management group as soon as possible to understand the needs of the community, so we can then perform some design “magic” with those requirements in mind.  At the end of the day, our job as designers is to make your multifamily community efficient, operational, AND beautiful (even your Amazon lockers).

We know that tech in multifamily communities is necessary to stay competitive, but we hope that as the world reopens, we can include technology that is thoughtful, hospitality-focused, timeless and appropriate for the intended demographic.

We believe the world will soon be thirsty for human interaction again, but is your multifamily community prepared for that? Contact our Business Development team at and, they’d love to chat with you about it.


Senior Living Amenities: Designing Spaces to Promote Community Engagement

As part of our monthly blog series covering the different industries that Banko Design services, we wanted to tackle a topic in Senior Living we feel needs more attention – the importance of programming amenity spaces that facilitate positive community engagement and a bonus peek into what those amenities could be!

One of the worst mistakes you can make as a developer or operator is to build a beautiful senior community, lease up a bunch of eager residents, and then realize a few months down the road that they are all bored beyond measure in your fantastic space due to lack of engagement and socialization!

Not even the very best design can hide a snoozefest. Unfortunately, this situation is all too common with groups that meant well but did not fully execute. This problem is two-fold because it not only negatively affects the current residents, but also deters new ones.

So how do we ensure YOUR community will not have residents bored to tears?

Dominion by Everlan of Louisville – Kentucky


If you want to truly knock your community out of the park, we need to all start talking about the function of the space early (we are talking Schematic Design early!)

At Banko Design, our standard practice is to ask our clients to bring all managing consultants and operations to the table as soon as we talk about programming needs. This meeting of the minds ensures everyone is on board and we have a full picture of what is necessary to make sure this property and its team thrive.

Though terrible in its toll, especially on the senior population who have been the hardest hit in terms of both hospitalization rates and severe social distancing measures, we believe that the pandemic’s aftermath has in many ways renewed an interest in our older population’s safety, including their emotional and spiritual wellbeing. We are hopeful that the silver lining from this trying time is a lasting commitment to better spaces for our seniors.

But “better” does not have to mean expensive or energy intensive for you. Creating these sanctuaries does however require a realistic understanding of your target market – demographic, location, average rent prices – as well as early and equal buy-in from all relevant parties and a creative approach (Keep reading! We can help with that part!)

The Phoenix at Braselton – Georgia


Most clients and operators we work with have certain requirements or amenities/offerings that are part of their secret sauce. While we would never reveal those special differentiators, our general recommendation is to create spaces that get residents outside of their rooms (ideally outside in nature) and engaged with the larger community. For this reason, we tend to steer clients away from spending money on movie theatres or in-room technology packages.

Since “wellness” has become a hot topic in the pandemic, we have seen increased demand in a host of amenity spaces that encourage wellbeing – think state-of-the-art fitness studios, meditation rooms, on-site nutritionists, community gardens, and spas. Though we think these concepts are indeed awesome, they have almost become ubiquitous.

So, with the above in mind, let us really let our creative juices flow, shall we?

New Haven at Little River – South Carolina

We read an opinion article from Artnet in November that claimed the growing “silver wave” may also become the largest collectors of modern and contemporary art. We love that! Additionally, have you ever noticed that museum docents are often retirees? So have we! This revelation got us thinking that for a low acuity community in an urban setting or burgeoning suburb, we could cater to the older populations’ penchant for emerging artwork by creating a rotating gallery space where local artists/artisans can feature (and potentially sell) their work.

In that same vein, if you have a small-ish space in your floor plan with limited budget, then we have an idea for you! Create a cozy “Speaker Space” and mirror it after the Ted Talk format. Invite university professors, local guides, or heck – even your own residents! – to give short lectures on a specific topic. All you really need for this space, aside from an engaging speaker and captive audience, are some benches, a projector, a podium. Voila! Instant culture!

These are just two ideas that (when taken alongside the physically nourishing activities we mentioned above), would really help promote holistic wellbeing, fun, and give a sense of purpose to residents. We always research the locality of a proposed community when making suggestions to be sure our ideas are appropriate for the level of care and region.

Dominion by Everlan of Louisville – Kentucky


The final critical component of successful programming is the handoff that happens once the community is finally ready to welcome residents. The onus is then on the operations team to not only maintain the community but keep the party going long after its doors have opened. This last step underscores the importance of bringing in the Ops team early and educating the team on all the cool new features and program along the way. In other words, make sure they are game for the games you have planned! These spaces are limited only to the staff and residents’ imaginations.  


Senior Living has always been our largest vertical here at Banko Design, which is intentional. In our six years as a company, we have flipped the script on traditional (read: boring) senior living by working alongside our clients to design great looking, functional spaces that actively encourage engagement so that residents’ experience an improved quality of life in a dignified setting.

Looking to build the best community possible? Give us a call. Together we can give seniors a resident they are excited to call home! You can reach our Business Development team at and


Senior Living and Hospitality Specs: A Whole Lot In Common

For our first ever monthly, vertical-specific blog, we’re talking hospitality. More specifically, we’re chatting about how senior living design should inform smart hospitality specification.

For many individuals and industries, 2020 incentivized us to re-think and reassess our own health and wellness practices where we live, work and play. Fortunately, because of Melissa Banko’s 15+ years of experience in senior living design, Banko Design has always designed for health and hygiene in every vertical we’ve entered. As a pioneer in the senior living design space, our firm’s designers know that there are many senior living design components that should be translated into other verticals, and this is something that Banko Design excels in.

One of the most important translations is specifying finishes and furniture with longevity and vigorous use in mind. As you would suspect in senior living, it is essential to specify items and materials that are durable and easy to clean, so why wouldn’t we do this in our hospitality designs as well? For both senior living and hospitality projects, we ALWAYS specify materials that are bleach-cleanable and have a tough double rub quality. Something else that may not immediately come to mind when specifying for health and wellness is off-gassing. Cheaper is not always better! We will never choose low-grade materials or furniture that would emote toxins into the air of your property.

Sure, healthy spaces are absolutely those that are physically clean, but we also consider the mental health of those using the space too. In senior living design, we design for the senior residents and aim to make their space feel like an inviting home where they can find solace and comfort. We apply this same tenet to hospitality. We think about how a space will make visitors feel rather than JUST how it looks. Is it programmed to promote ease of use, comfort, warmth and hygiene? Every aspect affects user experience!

Great design can and should do all of these things in any vertical! We have helped owners, developers and operators in all verticals create standards and programs focused on endurance and health from the beginning. Listen, we’re not going to give away all the tricks of the trade in specifying smart; you’ll have to call us for that. Let’s create healthy and beautiful spaces for people to thrive in together!

Interested? Reach out to our Business Development team at and