As the Burrard Group prepares for groundbreaking on the much anticipated NEXUS tower this winter, it isn’t only the construction of the sky-high tower they will be breaking ground on, but also a new product category for residential real estate – the smart connected building..
“Seattle is ready for NEXUS,” said Christian Chan, Executive Vice President of Burrard. “It’s about time that a city recognized globally for innovation, technology and cloud computing meet a residential community that can keep pace.”
In the same way that the award-winning architects at Weber Thompson have artfully crafted the physical environment, a world-class IoT (Internet of Things) and edge computing team at Seattle-based Sirqul is engineering the digital environment – adding an exciting new dimension to urban living.
Chan has appointed Robert Frederick, President and CEO of Sirqul, to chair a committee of engineering and lifestyle experts to explore and deliver the high-tech platform at NEXUS.
Frederick is an MIT grad and MIT Technology Review Magazine TR 100 award winner, having authored 32 issued patents and participated in numerous social and tech startups. He also led Amazon’s first efforts in mobile and voice recognition with Amazon Anywhere in 1999.
In 2002, Frederick became the technical co-founder and chief architect of Anywhere’s evolution into Amazon Web Services (AWS), a new cloud offering that changed application development and disrupted traditional software business models.
“Smart spaces within residential communities will eventually be as expected as indoor plumbing, but it takes thought leaders like Burrard Group to change the paradigm,” said Frederick. “Together we aim to deliver a future-proof environment that will greatly enhance the lifestyle offering of NEXUS while improving the overall efficiency of its operation.”
The Sirqul team is tasked with programming an agnostic system using a combination of hardware devices and cloud services that will tie into a custom app for residents, guests, building staff and 3rd party providers.
The team is reviewing and testing the latest evolutions in home automation and smart systems involving lighting, climate control, security, entertainment, plugs and appliances, just to name a few. Other innovative explorations include voice and gesture activation, and proximity detection systems.
Sirqul and Burrard are in the process of establishing a “Living Lab,” to be located in the forthcoming NEXUS Sales Center. Prospective homebuyers, real estate brokers and service providers will be invited to collaborate on testing ideas and technologies.
Recognizing the fast pace of advancement in this burgeoning field, the lab will serve to continually advance the user experience and integrate new technologies in real time as they become available, allowing the offering to be as current as possible when the building delivers in 2019.
Once the latest, greatest and best-in-class solutions have been specified, buyers will be offered optional “smart” enhancements for their future home.
“Our platform will enable numerous third-party products to talk to each other at the edge and through the cloud via a custom mobile app, websites and in-building kiosks,” adds Frederick. “Our approach allows for new technologies and products to arrive to market and be considered for implementation. Through existing ODM partnerships, we will also seek to engineer our own proprietary hardware solutions as part of this lab – this is the future of living, in beta.”
Burrard and Sirqul have been busy envisioning what living in the building of the future might be, and are working backwards to define specific features that will engage residents towards building community, promoting sustainability, utilizing smart home technology and enjoying in-building services.
For example, Sirqul is considering gamification to encourage NEXUS residents to be responsible with utility consumption and envisions a points system with potential rewards being offered by service providers. They are calling this the NEXUS “Eco-Score.”
“If you score among the top 10 percent most efficient users of energy and water in the building, you would earn perks from our approved vendors,” adds Frederick.
The prospect of a tech-savvy high-rise combined with progressive architecture and an enviable in-city location has already drawn buyers. Since the opening of a limited Preview Center in June 2016, prospective buyers have already reserved the opportunity to pre-purchase 80% of the 374 homes, each reservation requiring a fully refundable $5,000 deposit.
Upon the opening of the Sales Center in the coming months, those reservations will convert to firm purchase and sales agreements, with buyers putting down 5 percent earnest money on homes offered at preferred presale pricing from the low $300,000s to more than $3,000,000.
Dean Jones, President and CEO of Seattle-based Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty says the opportunity for ownership at NEXUS is particularly attractive as low interest rates and escalating rents means it can actually be less expensive to own the future versus leasing after only a few years. Reservations also mean buyers can program their future without fear of multiple offers, escalating prices or missing out.
“NEXUS is a game changer on many levels, and a sense of excitement and community has already begun to develop amongst our buyers,” adds Jones. “We haven’t even broken ground yet; imagine what a few years of programming will do.”
Technology isn’t the only differentiator. NEXUS also features innovative floor plans and robust amenities.
The 7th floor common area will include a co-working space with a meeting room, media great room for entertaining, pet lounge with indoor and outdoor spaces, fitness center and several guest suites for overnight visitors.
And instead of building a collection of penthouse units on the 41st floor, Burrard programmed the Sky Club as a community space for all residents with a fireside lounge; public and private dining facilities; games room; and expansive outdoor terrace complete with BBQ’s, fire pits and outdoor entertainment systems.
Ironically, the Sky Club at NEXUS was inspired by the original Cloud Room atop the former Camlin Hotel at 9th Avenue and Pike Street. While analog, this penthouse lounge was Seattle’s landmark piano bar and played host to legendary artists like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and even Elvis Presley before its closure in 2003.
It was that elixir of social connectedness and impromptu experiences that helped drive The Camlin Hotel to become Seattle’s preferred overnight address when it opened in 1949. Fast forward seventy years, and the Cloud Room is reinterpreted in 2019 high atop NEXUS but this time the cosmopolitan lifestyle is available to own and will provide a lifetime of opportunities enhanced by technology.
“Looking back, who would have guessed that living in the cloud would take on so much meaning,” muses Chan.