Emily Zhu 6/9/2020
We will read a host of predictions for how the home of the future will look different. The pandemic may change behavior. But given that people live in 100-year-old homes in New York City, and 400-year-old homes in London – I venture to guess that many things will also stay the same. Old human habits, like hanging out together, will surely return, if not the same as it ever was. Yet, here we are, in 2020 during a time when New York has not physically shrunk, but many have fled to houses outside the city. What new ideas and ways of living will they try to import? And to that end, what else will change and what will stay the same? I am going to look for trends in the way we live in New York City. This is certainly the beginning of a conversation about the future of New York City and it’s our hope that the city emerges smarter and more equitable.
How will technology improvements change the way that we live in New York?
The internet will shift to 5G. Our ability to integrate the fullness of the internet into our lives will dramatically reshape the way we interact. TV is on the wall, working at a distance or “WFH’ as we now call it, will be more robust. So what will be the improvements specific to our vertical living in New York?
Apartments will continue to take advantage of more things moving online, such as using apps to moving into the apartment, use digitally-enabled elements of housekeeping and grocery deliver services and so on. Tenants can also submit and manage maintenance requests through the platform and make rent payments seamlessly. As online shopping continues to grow nationally, the need for dedicated space for deliveries, including cold storage for food deliveries, is an emerging trend in the multifamily residential sectors.That said, many things simply cannot be replaced with technology. Making coffee of its sensory delight in the morning will not be replaced even though the technology is well in place.
Apartment layouts & architecture
The future of real estate is no longer about delivering four walls to tenants. Instead, it’s about creating a unique, personalized customer experience that fosters meaningful interactions, collaboration, productivity. Apartment dwellers will feel the need of quietness to work from home. What will be the design-oriented solutions in the near term? Whether it be noise reducing wall and ceiling coverings, or room dividers, there will be some new options on the market to tailor such demands. Design-friendly solutions will certainly be called for, along with much more.
For many New Yorkers, and for an entire generation of younger foodies, people are licking their chops to get back into restaurants. I would think that ‘re-setting the table’ will become an opportunity to make restaurants more differentiated. What will happen in the restaurants of 2020 and beyond? How can they provide more exclusive service, more intense and full-sensory experiences, with or without crowds? Using mannequins to fill empty tables or build quarantine greenhouse so diners can eat while social distancing?
Offices will get roomier when the virus passes
Although conventional wisdom suggests that the success of remote working will allow companies to abandon citycenter offices, there is an emerging counterargument. Cooped-up workers will put a premium on social contact. And far from scaling back, the offices of the future may look more like law firms than telemarketing call-center beehives.
Will retail get creative
What will happen to retail? Retail was already in a heap of trouble before the coronavirus hit and forced stores to shutter doors. The pandemic merely accelerated those woes. Will a solution start to present itself to re-create vibrant street life in neighborhoods across Manhattan, Brooklyn and beyond? What shopping can stay local assuming there is always something next.
Drone flight food delivery
The coronavirus pandemic could give rise to the drones. Contagion fears and quarantines have made deliveries costly and tricky. “Contactless delivery” where couriers leave food in designated pickup spots might help. Drones may be one solution to reduce human contact, bring down costs and cut delivery times. Technical and regulatory hurdles may hamper progress for drone deliveries, but companies and governments may now be prepared to invest more and accelerate approvals.
Cities exodus will be more fringe than fashion
The coronavirus lockdown dragging on in the world’s densest cities like New York have many urban dwellers yearning for more space. That makes a surge in people deciding to decamp to the suburbs and beyond appear likely. But at least one problem will give them pause: inadequate infrastructure.
Cities were necessary for business, commerce, and jobs. Planners also found ways to make them resilient using innovation. Technology has changed part of that equation. Investments in Wi-Fi and 5G have allowed apps like Zoom Video to make face-toface meetings less necessary. The more companies who join Twitter, Facebook and others with work-from-home mandates, the easier it becomes for employees to ditch city life.
But there are some drawbacks to mass exodus. Consider medical care. Other essential services might struggle with a big influx. Schools have limited space. Big farms can leave rural water with high nitrate levels. Power supply can be less reliable and more expensive. Many of these issues, with good planning and fund, be addressed, but would take years to accomplish. In the meantime, quitting the city is likely to remain an option for the wealthier. For most, dreams of a view of the mountains from the home office may have to wait.
There are lots of questions, and lots of moving pieces. All of them tickle my curiosity and are worth exploring. We will begin these conversations and will include you in the dialogue! Thank you for your support, your questions, your passions, your knowledge, and your desire to learn more.