Although government requirements related to the pandemic have lifted, not everyone is ready to return to life as normal. Many people are choosing to mask and physically distance, and these effects from the pandemic could linger for years.

Apartment owners are finding ways to adjust existing common spaces and amenities to make residents feel comfortable. One method has been to de-densify shared spaces to allow users to adequately social distance, according to Dale Brown, a principal at ONYX Architects. Brown is speaking on the Adapting to Change: New Space Requirements, Designs & Amenities panel at the GlobeSt.com Apartments conference on October 26 and 27, where he will talk about the changes that apartment owners are making post-pandemic.

“You are still seeing a lot of the same common amenities, but the scale of those is going down. Instead of one large fitness facility in an apartment complex, it will get split up into two or three fitness centers so that the equipment is more spread out and there are less people in one space,” Brown tells GlobeSt.com. “That follows through with common outdoor spaces and clubrooms. All of those spaces are being broken down in order to provide spaces that people are comfortable in.”

Apartment owners are also looking at usage of amenities. In many cases, amenities bring tenants into the door, but they are used as frequently as one might expect. This has given owners some wiggle room to make adjustments without making a major capital investment. “Owners are spreading things out and making it more comfortable for people without spending the dollars,” explains Brown. “So, we aren’t seeing a lot of physical changes, more operational changes.”

While this is happening at exiting properties, Brown is also working with developers on new projects and implementing similar changes. “I think that we are seeing spaces that are designed differently,” he says. “I think that we will see more open air corridors, ride hailing areas and touchless technology. We are seeing spaces that are a little more gracious and a little larger so that you can social-distance and so that people are comfortable walking past one another in a corridor. I don’t think that we will design as tight as we used to.”

While the effects of the pandemic will slowly wan, Brown expects that something like this could happen again, and he is designing around that ideology. “We are working on the premise that something like this will never go away. It has happened once and it is likely to happen again,” says Brown. “We can create better living environments by taking the approach that we just need to do some things fundamentally different.”