The Value and Complexities of Rooftop Amenities

The Value and Complexities of Rooftop Amenities

Rooftop amenities are expensive. They are subject to building codes. They are also limited by engineering constraints. So, why build them? Simply put, they catch the attention of residents and guests and increase the value of your property. 

For instance, nearly one-third of Americans live without access to decent nearby green spaces, according to a 2020 report by The Trust for Public Land. While this has been the case for some time, the pandemic lockdowns highlighted the disparity and the importance of access to quality outdoor spaces.

Further, multiple studies have shown that spending time in green spaces reduces stress and improves physical and psychological well being. And according to RealPage, 5 to 9 percent of your total rent can be attributed to amenities. 

These are just some of the ways rooftop amenities add a lot of value to your property. They create community and help you achieve your goals. 

Getting the most value out of your rooftop isn’t easy. By implementing the following tips, you’ll increase your chances of a successful rooftop amenity design.

Rooftop Amenity Design Tips & Tricks

1. Consider amenities to be a highlight of your development, not an afterthought. Because outdoor amenities are featured within the majority of property marketing material and sales walks, it’s important to design them for the prominent role they play in the leasing and resident retention at your project. These aren’t spaces that you can neglect and hope your operations team can make the most of them, like putting lipstick on a pig.

2. Consult specialists early on in the process rather than trying to reverse engineer. Budget constraints and project timelines both impact the design process in such a way that the further your project gets down the road the fewer options you have. That’s why it’s so valuable to get the right team members involved at the onset of your project. They can give you the power to make decisions that aren’t limited by timing or budget which allows you to achieve a higher vision for your project. 

3. Target a specific market segment rather than trying to be all things to all people. Following the impulse to copy your competitors only leads to being seen as another replaceable option. In order to have a differentiated property your amenities must be geared towards a particular group of people who have a distinct set of values. 

4. Embrace design-informed budgeting over budget-driven design. Instead of designing away without any acknowledgment of cost, only to backtrack later once the bid comes in, we offer a cost opinion with each design based on our most current experience on multiple rooftop amenity projects. This way owners get the rough order of magnitude cost presented to them with the design, allowing them to provide genuine feedback on what matters most to them. They are then empowered to set their budget based on the design they want.

5. Focus on encouraging amenity use over limiting amenity maintenance. When you approach the design of outdoor space with a focus on what makes it more enjoyable for people, an important mindshift happens. Suddenly, a popular and activated space becomes worth the added maintenance effort. In a world where maintenance concerns kibosh most unique ideas, you’ll stand out by taking the opposite approach.

6. Tailor your amenities for community-building, not just for marketing and sales. Don’t just make your amenities look good to potential residents; make them feel good when residents use the space. When residents love the amenities, they’re more likely to spend time there, make friendships, and ultimately stick around longer.

7. Turn your thinking “outside in.” Locate your outdoor amenity spaces immediately adjacent to interior amenities. Connecting outdoor and indoor amenities increases the value of each. When you think about your development from the outside in, you’ll notice opportunities to make your amenities more compelling. Whether it’s capturing views or seamlessly connecting materials, you can take advantage of your chance to stand out. Associated outdoor and indoor spaces make better use of your money. Combined, they form a more attractive spot for a variety of programs and uses throughout the seasons. Your tenants are more likely to use both spaces, making them more attached to the community and more likely to stick around. 

8. There’s never enough green. To truly serve as an amenity, urban outdoor space needs ample greenery. It’s not easy to create lush and verdant outdoor scenery within constrained rooftop spaces in an urban environment. Yet there is something striking about the presence of large trees and dense shrubs several levels above the ground. The more vegetation you can get on top of your building, the more it will stand out. Apartment residents desire the many benefits of greenery in their daily lives. It promotes physical and mental health, stimulates creativity, and cools down the urban heat island. Dense, green plantings connote luxury. Simply put, the green on your rooftop will put more green in your pocket.

9. Go ahead and throw some shade. When it comes to outdoor space – especially rooftops – shade has a massive impact. Without access to shade, the usability of a rooftop diminishes greatly. While it’s nice to get some sun once in a while, nobody wants to spend too much time outside in the heat. Shade provides a much-needed break from the harshness of the sun while creating a feeling of refuge from the other elements. Overhead shade also shelters an amenity space from the hundreds of windows that may be looking down on it, making it feel less like a fishbowl. If you want to make a comfortable space, options for shade are non-negotiable.

10. Funsize is for Halloween candy. Outdoor features should be custom-scaled to fit the space – otherwise, they’ll look insignificant. Rooftop and outdoor living experiences are unique from interior amenities. Outdoor space is open to the broad context of the city and surrounding geography. Whether the view is of towering skyscrapers or great mountain ranges, outdoor space is often encompassed by an environment with massive scale. Each feature should be scaled up accordingly to look right in that context. These are communal spaces, designed to accommodate many people at once. One of the most common mistakes you can make is to keep things too small, rendering them unusable and underwhelming.

11. Don’t dilute the design. When money is tight, avoid sacrificing the design. Give priority to what is most important. The best way to reach your design goals with a tight budget is to create a hierarchy of spaces based on what is most important to you. Rather than cut back on every item across the board, preserve those most important items. It’s much better to retain a smaller number of exciting features than to leave the entirety of your space feeling mediocre or worse. Don’t compromise on those iconic pieces that define the space.

12. Balance public versus private. Make sure personal spaces and shared spaces do not interfere with each other. Creating a community amenity space that people actually want to use isn’t easy. It becomes all the more difficult when the space is surrounded by private units.

While it’s clear that there are many potential problems caused by the conflict between private and public spaces, it is often less clear how to prevent them. We’ve experimented with concepts such as proximity and view angles to discover the best-case scenarios for user experience.

Most important is how you lay out the main structure of the space. Providing adequate distance and vertical screening between communal space and private units is the best way to handle the issue.

Maximize Your Rooftop Amenity Value

Rooftop amenities are complex and getting them right isn’t easy. But, by following the tips and tricks outlined above, you can be confident that your rooftop amenities generate the value you want to make the most of your investment.

Ready to maximize the value of your rooftop spaces? Get in touch with a rooftop amenity design expert.