David Hovey founded Optima in 1978. The company's name summarizes Hovey's ambitions then and his achievements now. Hovey wanted to reinvent residential housing by optimizing development, design and construction. Even more, Hovey wanted to raise the design standard by building architecturally ambitious housing designed to accommodate modern people with their contemporary needs.
To date, Optima has completed 29 multi-family projects — more than 4,000 units — built in the areas around Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona. The scale has risen dramatically over 30 years: from the company's first project of six units — townhomes in Chicago — to more than 650 units in three towers at its most recent project, Optima Old Orchard Woods in suburban Chicago. In addition, Hovey has done a series of four experimental single-family homes in a gated community called Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona. The company has received dozens of awards for everything from architectural excellence, to planning and green design.
Hovey is uniquely suited by disposition and training to synthesize design and building. He is a trained architect who worked for years on large-scale projects at the firm now known as Murphy/Jahn in Chicago. His graduate thesis explored the possibilities of factory-built housing. Control is important to him. By managing all aspects of a project from financing through design and construction, he is able to express and realize his vision. Hovey often says "Quality pays for itself." Time and again the economic success of his buildings has proved the truth of that maxim.
Hovey believes in continually refining housing through design innovation and using new technology. He was early to incorporate green thinking and sustainability into his work. Since the 1980s, his projects have featured green- roof sky-gardens that help the environment and reduce energy consumption. Solar power has been routinely employed in recent projects. Optima Camelview Village in Arizona has been designed to meet the LEEDS Silver-level energy efficiency standards. By building dense, multi-family housing in cities and near transit hubs at close-in suburbs, Hovey offers attractive efficient alternatives to the wasteful excesses of sprawl.
Hovey's designs are always site-specific and sensitive to climate and lifestyle. Yet, despite enormous climate differences between the two landscapes where he builds — Illinois and Arizona — certain modern features recur throughout his work: strong geometric shapes, large glass expanses, open floor plans and details that celebrate the inherent beauty of building materials.
The company's process is streamlined and controlled. A concentrated, multi-disciplinary structure eliminates the inefficiencies and redundancies that plague conventional developers. Optima is staffed by engineers, construction managers, accountants and architects. Among the last group are past students of Hovey's from the architecture program at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago where he is both an associate professor and alumnus.
Hovey is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). His work has been widely published and exhibited. A book on his work, The Architecture of David Hovey, was published by Rizzoli in 2004.
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