Building Innovation: SmartSpace SoMa

Posted on Nov 29, 2012

Building Innovation: SmartSpace SoMa

For as long as humans have been building shelter, it’s something to experience building innovation in the residential real estate community. ULIsf hosted a tour of SmartSpace SoMa this week, a 4-story, 23-unit apartment community on a 3700 square-foot former parking lot, as the community prepares to open in December 2012. The innovation comes in two forms: the developer, Panoramic Interests, created small, comfortable, high-style homes at just over 300 square feet, and used Zeta Communities modular construction to deliver LEED Platinum-level homes pre-finished.




Cara Houser, the Director of Development for Panoramic Interests, noted one of the main benefits to the owner of developing a modular building with Zeta Communities is speed, with building completed at twice the speed of typical construction. The four stories of individual apartment homes were set upon the foundation in four days, one floor completed per day. Construction continues on the corridors and exterior. Cost of construction was equivalent to conventional building methods, per Zeta Communities mission of “no penalty for building green.”

Panoramic Interests performed prototype testing on the SmartSpace concept, fine-tuning the concept before going to market.

Whatever your business, there are steps you can take to test your innovation to ready it for launch:

  • Customer-Minded Design. Panoramic Interests drew on their years of experience building multi-family communities in this building innovation, especially those serving the student population in Berkeley. In designing SmartSpace and selecting the SoMa location, the company drew on their consumer knowledge to create the homes and the community.
  • Test. True customer feedback comes from getting a chance to touch, feel and experience your product in a prototype stage. Let customers have experience with your innovation and give you feedback. Panoramic Interests created a prototype home, fine-tuned it and invited a graduate student to live in the home for a few weeks and report on the experience. Customer feedback is an incredibly powerful tool in refining products.
  • Refine. If your product is designed to expand to multiple locations or markets, learn from the go-to-market experience. Keep the things that worked well in the plan, improve on those things that can be improved upon. In this case, the developer noted that the construction process for SmartSpace SoMa was fast, but expects that future developments will be faster.

Visit and for more information on this building innovation.

Have you seen another building innovation you would like to share? Send me a note, I would love to know about them.


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