Designing for the new American suburb

Combining different exterior profiles, such as the Artisan siding and Reveal panel system profiles seen here, part of the Aspyre Collection by James Hardie, helps to create a unique and visually appealing façade.

Combining different exterior profiles, such as the Artisan siding and Reveal panel system profiles seen here, part of the Aspyre Collection by James Hardie, helps to create a unique and visually appealing façade.

Millennials are settling into the suburbs, but they’re not willing to sacrifice what they love about urban living, AIA partner James Hardie says.

The American suburb is making a comeback. Except this time, it’s different.

Millennials flocked to cities and put homeownership on hold during the mid-2000s downturn. Now that they can afford to buy, they are beginning to settle down in suburban and exurban communities, where home prices are lower. Instead of leaving their urban lifestyles behind, however, they are bringing what they love about the city with them.

The result is a trend toward New Urbanism in the suburbs. Like cities, suburban communities are becoming more compact, connected, and walkable. With revitalized and bustling mixed-use commercial and entertainment hubs, they also have the dining, nightlife, and culture that 20- and 30-somethings have come to expect.

When it comes to specific features, new suburbanites want homes that are low-maintenance and unique, with the accessibility and convenience they crave. This presents an exciting opportunity for architects to rethink how they build communities and how product choice can fit into their design to showcase more distinctive homes and streetscapes.

To adapt, designers are reaching into their toolboxes for innovative exterior products to help them create unique façades within community settings. The Aspyre Collection by James Hardie, for example, offers architects versatility: The collection’s Artisan siding and trim and Reveal panel systems can be used individually or together to achieve a unique look and feel for each home. Additionally, both product lines allow architects to experiment with different installation techniques, vertical or horizontal, as shown in the image above.

This means that a handful of models can be repeated, but the homes will appear to be one-of-a-kind. It’s a simple strategy for diversifying a neighborhood’s appearance and providing young home buyers the uniqueness they desire.

Beyond the look, new suburban homeowners want a home that doesn't demand constant upkeep. After all, they're bringing the best parts of urban living with them so they can live a life of experiences, not one that's full of housework. Fiber cement materials, like those found in the Aspyre Collection by James Hardie, are low maintenance and durable.

These features and benefits are especially important to the Millennial generation, which is now the largest group of homebuyers in the US and the largest group of consumers. They will continue to influence the trend toward New Urbanism as they migrate from large cities into more suburban locations. This provides the perfect opportunity for architects to rethink their designs to accommodate the lifestyles of this now-affluent generation.

To learn more about The Aspyre Collection by James Hardie, visit AspyreDesign.com.

AIA does not sponsor or endorse any enterprise, whether public or private, operated for profit. Further, no AIA officer, director, committee member, or employee, or any of its component organizations in his or her official capacity, is permitted to approve, sponsor, endorse, or do anything that may be deemed or construed to be an approval, sponsorship, or endorsement of any material of construction or any method or manner of handling, using, distributing, or dealing in any material or product.

Image credits

Combining different exterior profiles, such as the Artisan siding and Reveal panel system profiles seen here, part of the Aspyre Collection by James Hardie, helps to create a unique and visually appealing façade.

James Hardie

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