Trilith CEO creates mixed-use development committed to sustainability.
Builder and Developer: Tell me about your time at Trilith and its philosophy.
Rob Parker: I joined the project as its inception five and a half years ago. I was recruited to lead the effort to design, create, build and operate a mixed-use community/town for approx. 4,000 people. Entitlements include 750 single family homes, 600 multi-family, 300 hotel rooms, 270,000SF of commercial, retail & office, 100 accessory dwelling units, 50 tiny homes and 25 tree houses.
I assembled a development team, architects, designers, builders and partners to create Pinewood Forest, eventually rebranding as Trilith.
BD: Tell us about the inspiration behind the community.
RP: Originally conceived as a “company town for the film industry,” the vision expanded in the planning stages to serve as a “town for creatives.” Our intent is to create an environment where creatives can thrive and flourish. Based on principles of new urbanism, Trilith is a walkable TND (traditional neighborhood development) where the automobile is parked as much as possible.
BD: Who came up with the name Trilith and what is the meaning behind it?
RP: Trilith was created by a joint task force of the studio and the town led by Trilith Studios President Frank Patterson and Town at Trilith President Rob Parker. A trilith is an architectural term defined as two vertical stones that supports a single horizontal stone. (Tri-Lith) Stonehenge is the most famous example. Every doorway, passageway or entrance is in essence a trilith.
The three pillars of our studio and town strategy is 1. Purpose built facilities, 2. Cutting-edge technology 3. Great storytelling.
BD: How important is sustainability to you and the community at Trilith?
RP: Sustainability is a core value of Trilith. More than 50% of the community is preserved as green space. All 750 homes are geothermal and use the earth to heat and cool. Homes are built with five key elements of sustainability:
- Smaller footprint homes that use less resources to construct and maintain.
- Tightly sealed building envelope
- Geothermal heating and cooling
- Smart home technology
- Optional solar panels & battery storage
BD: What does the future of homebuilding look like to you?
RP: We believe the future is bright for mixed-use developments that foster a sense of community. Interest in Trilith has been extremely positive, and we have sold every home as quickly as they are constructed. We are confident people will always want to live in special communities that foster a sense of place and human connection.
BD: What are some industry trends, innovative products and/or the latest technology you’re seeing in new construction?
RP: A trend we’ve utilized is modular and prefabricated construction to save time and increase efficiency by building pieces off-site while simultaneously working on other aspects of the build on-site. We were early adopters of this method with our first micro home and we plan to use this to build attainable housing in the near future.
Another industry trend we’re seeing is 3D printing which is presenting itself in several aspects. As this technology improves and progresses, we expect to see it incorporated into the market in the next five to 10 years.
Finally, innovation in materials is important to our builds, specifically in geothermal and HVAC materials. These more innovative products are more compact and take up less room in the home to give residents more living space with more technology, an important aspect to us since we are committed to building smaller footprint homes.
BD: Has this Trilith won any awards?
RP: We’ve received many awards for our excellence in master-plan community, tiny living and new urbanism. Some awards we received in 2020 include the OBIE Master-Plan Community of the Year, OBIE Gold and Silver for Micro Homes in the Best Building Design Detached Model, OBIE Best Landscape Design (Community), OBIE Best Audio Production and Gold in the National Association of Homebuilders Best American Living Award.
BD: What are some challenges that your industry is facing? Solutions?
RP: Supply chain challenges
Pace of development
- Remarkable design & sense of place
- Differentiation between what we are doing, and other housing types
- Clear communication with home buyers about rising costs
- Tighter margins
BD: Has COVID-19 impacted the functions of this community in any way? What are some safety protocols being instilled within the community?
RP: People have been attracted to a safe community like Trilith that offers great outdoor spaces, outdoor and rooftop seating at restaurants and a sense of respect from community members who know each other well.