VRT Recap: Attainable Design Solutions + the Apple-Like Home Challenge

“Yesterday’s [Virtual Round Table] was as good as any session I’ve seen in 15 years of attending ULI council meetings, PCBC and Housing Innovation Alliance events. ” — Rodney Hall, Rodney Hall Executive Search 

A month ago, we challenged five of the nation’s leading architectural firms to come up with design solutions that will help address the affordable/attainable housing challenge for middle income households. More specifically, we asked them to show us:

  • How a 1,500 square foot home can feel more like 2,500 square feet
  • What we can learn from smaller homes of the past
  • How technology can make a difference
  • And finally, how to apply the same approach Apple did in creating the first iPhone to provide more usability and value per square foot in home utility spaces like the kitchen, laundry, office, entertainment, and more

Mollie Carmichael of Meyers Research/Metrostudy teed things up with some of their latest research on “value buyers”—defining what affordability means geographically and by consumer types and what the drivers are for focusing on design. Leaders from Bassenian Lagoni, Dahlin Group, IDEArc Architecture and Planning, KTGY and Woodley Architectural Group participated.

We couldn’t agree more, Rodney, the results were fantastic! Thanks to Mollie Carmichael, Danielle Asher, Ike Balmaseda, Steve Dewan, Vance Graham, Nick Lehnert, Deanna Moore, Don Ruthroff, Michael Woodley and your teams for all of your efforts in pulling ideas together. While these folks have asked us not to share the slides, they’re happy to answer any further questions from you via email. Access their contact info here.

Thanks Rodney for telling us what you loved as well (see the rest of Rodney’s email below). And, if you haven’t watched the video yet, you should.


  • Capturing the space between the studs.  For incremental added cost, a few interior walls could be framed with wider studs to better accommodate flat screens and bookcases.
  • Similar:  the wall storage on the condotel slide.   If not load-bearing, the wall unit “becomes the wall” between rooms– i.e. skip the stud wall.    
  • The iPhone multifunction use of each room– not groundbreaking but always interesting to see how many ways a single space can be converted/adapted.  Sleeping nook/office/closet. 
  • Smaller but sleeker baths.  Do we really need master baths the size of my first apartment? 
  • Examples existing plans redesigned for better space use. 

“Again–well done!” says Rodney. “Wish we had a video of the full session.”   WE DO!