10 Tips for a successful Multi-Family design project

10 Tips for a successful Multi-Family design project

By Principle Architect and Multi-Family Director, Adrienne Stronge, and Principle Architect and Business Manager, Charles Hendricks.

Meadow Branch Apartments drone shot

Meadow Branch Apartments, a multi-family Luxury Living Community in Winchester. Photo provided by KBS.

In multi-family design, we are designing communities and creating homes for a wide range of people. There are many requirements that must be considered such as code-required fire and egress stipulations, accessibility and fair housing concerns, and individual jurisdiction zoning requirements. For a successful multi-family design project, the goal is to find the balance between minimizing costs and creating inviting communities that rise above your competition, staying occupied and profitable for years to come. Some of our many considerations with initial multi-family design are below.


  1. Keep your target market in mind.  
  2. Optimizing the site plan for density of units, parking, and resident access is key.  
  3. The site should be comfortable for your residents.  
  4. Building design should be simple but attractive.  
  5. Create as few unit types as possible.
  6. Building science is an important consideration through the design of the building details.  
  7. Moisture intrusion is a major consideration in all building types, but especially in multi-family construction where any issues could result in costly repairs and unoccupiable units.  
  8. When specifying materials in multi-family construction, the instinct is to use very inexpensive materials to save costs. However, using cost-competitive, durable materials will keep the building working properly longer with less maintenance cost.
  9. The quality of the drawings and specifications is just as important as the quality of the design.  
  10. Lastly and most importantly, picking a small architecture firm with years of experience in multifamily design can make the process most tailored to you, your site, and your prospective residents.  



Keep in mind that the development varies by area, site, budget, and aesthetic goals. If you are considering developing land for a multi-family project, please reach out and we will be happy to share our resource guide.

Elk Rock Meadow Craftsman Home Project Update

Elk Rock Meadow Craftsman Home Project Update

Construction has started on our most recent project in Elk Rock Meadow. We also designed the Elk Rock Farmhouse and the Elk Rock Meadow Vista in this neighborhood.

The Elk Rock Meadow Craftsman Home project is a beautiful custom home designed in collaboration with our client, Herr and Company, Huntlands Landscape Architecture, Grey Fox Design Works, Dovetail Design & Cabinets, and several others. This project is a team effort to think through every detail and the final project will show the success of this strategy.

Our conversations during design focused on our usual of building science, aging in place, comfort, and of course beauty. We have thought through how life might unfold in the future and made as many provisions as possible to allow our clients to live their dream life in their new dream home.

Now the work of taking our design work to built work is in process. The site clearing and foundation work has come along quickly.

Now walls are starting to appear on the barn site.

Stay tuned as we continue to update you on the progress.

Empathy as a Design Tool

Empathy as a Design Tool

Empathy as a Design Tool

Using empathy as a design tool is a powerful way to create buildings with purpose. It is the way to design custom homes that are dream homes. It is the way to design businesses that a community loves. Using empathy is how we design differently from others.

Empathetic design means understanding the users’ dreams, hopes, habits, and way of life. In other words, it means putting yourself and your experiences into their shoes to respond to their needs, wants, hopes, and dreams. Empathy will help designers set aside their own assumptions in order to understand the client’s motivations and experiences. It helps you figure out the needs of the client so we can provide solutions that are meaningful and go beyond surface textures and beyond just new construction. 

Using empathy in design gives power to place, provides equality, comfort, joy, and gives mutual respect to earth and user. This approach to design leads to innovation that neither client nor architect could have produced solo. It preserves heritage and celebrates history and empowers humanity to be better.

Oriental Express and Catering Company project update

Oriental Express and Catering Company project update

The Oriental Express and Catering Company is quickly taking shape as Constable Construction puts our design together. This new restaurant was designed in conjunction with our client to maximize the efficiency of the kitchen space to provide quick and delicious oriental cuisine.

I am looking forward to rolling through the drive-thru to get dinner once they open.

The design maximizes light into the dining space, has an open and modern style, and keeps a compact building footprint to make construction as affordable as possible.

Our experience designing restaurants allowed us to partner well with our client that owns and operates another oriental restaurant. We collaborated on the layout and understand the importance of layout to minimize the number of staff it takes to operate effectively.

The second floor of the building offers office operational space for the business owners to keep an eye on the business while getting their work done.

The large windows will invite diners to hang out and enjoy their lunch or dinner while watching the clouds roll by.


Visualizing the Design with Renderings

Visualizing the Design with Renderings

As architects sometimes we take for granted our ability to visualize the design solution before it is drawn. It is a skill that we develop over the years in our profession, and it allows us to quickly find solutions for our clients. We wave our hands, point to non-existent walls, and verbalize the design as if it is there – but sometimes (usually) our clients cannot visualize the design in the same way. So we convey our thoughts through sketches, line drawings, and more line drawings. However, for some details, that is not enough. Sometimes we need to also provide renderings that have people, light fixtures, windows, and daylight shown so our clients can understand what the space will feel like before it is built.

We don’t get the chance to do renderings for every project, but we use it as a tool in specific cases to help our clients make decisions. Here are some projects that we have renderings we have produced recently.


Law Firm

Law firm interior rendering.

Law firm interior rendering.

Law Firm front desk rendering.

Law Firm front desk rendering


Residential Living Room and Kitchen


Kitchen Rendering

Rendering of living room
Living Room rendering

Historical Porch Renovation

Historic Porch Sketch with notations.

Living Room Renovation


Living Room rendering.

Eastern Mennonite School Gathering Space


EMS Gathering Space Interior Rendering.

Rendering of Eastern Mennonite School gathering space.