USC Dornsife Discussion - Low Rise, High Stakes

USC Low rise High Stakes

Low Rise, High Stakes: What New State Laws Mean for Housing Policy, Residential Architecture, and Neighborhood Development in Los Angeles

Omgivning's Karin Liljegren and Albert Escobar presented in a discussion about California's SB9 and their award winning concept for low-rise density buildings. Watch this clip for Liljegren and Escobar's portion of the panel

Co-sponsored by Third LA and the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, this panel features architects, housing experts, and city planners that will consider the impact of Senate Bill 9, which allows single-family lots to be subdivided to hold up to four residential units, as well as other new state housing legislation. The discussion focused on strategies to promote affordability, neighborhood cohesion, and multigenerational living as the City works to locate housing closer to transit lines and job centers.

Moderated by Christopher Hawthorne, Chief Design Officer for the City of Los Angeles and Director of the Third L.A. Series at USC Dornsife, the panel also featured Thomas Robinson and Michael Faulkner from LEVER Architecture; Matt Glesne and Sarah Molina-Pearson from Los Angeles Department of City Planning; and Alejandro Gonzalez from Genesis LA.

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Airtalk on KPCC 89.3 talks to Karin about Adaptive Reuse

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Could L.A.’s Empty Office Buildings Be Turned Into Housing? The Answer Is Complicated

With more Californians working from home during the pandemic - and with some companies planning to make that remote work permanent - a lot of Los Angeles office buildings are sitting vacant at the same time the city is in the midst of a severe housing crisis. Could the former be the solution to the latter? Enter adaptive reuse, the practice of repurposing existing buildings for new uses. The Metropolitan Building in downtown L.A. is one example: it originally contained medical offices and shops; now it’s home to loft apartments. However, not every office building is so easily adapted. The shape and design of the original space are all key factors that affect the viability of an adaptive reuse project. On this episode of AirTalk, Larry discusses the visions and challenges of adaptive reuse in Los Angeles with founder of the adaptive reuse architecture firm Omgivning, Karin Liljegren.

Listen below:

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FABRIC wins 2021 SCDF Design Award for Adaptive Reuse

FABRIC from Omgivning

FABRIC on Los Angeles St. in the Downtown Los Angeles Fashion District won the 2021 Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) Design Award in Adaptive Reuse.

This project was completed in 2021 in conjunction with developers Urban Offerings, Swinteron as the General Contractor, Lynch Eisinger as the Design Architect, and Omgivning as the Executive Architect and Architect of Record.

FABRIC award SCDF crew

The awards were in December 2021 at the California Club.
Pictured above with the Omgivning team Karin Liljegren, Benjamin Ferrarioli, Hana Ogita, Peter Rindelaub, with Dean Nucich of Urban Offerings and the crew at Swinerton.

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LAist's David Wagner Speaks to Karin About Converting Commercial Spaces to Housing

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"As Workers Stay Remote, Can LA Turn Empty Offices Into Housing?" by David Wagner for the LAist.

Many Californians have been working from home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and some companies plan to let their workers stay fully remote.

So what happens to all those empty offices?

With Los Angeles in the midst of a severe housing crisis, some see promise in turning dormant office buildings into apartments through “adaptive reuse.”

“I definitely think that more and more office space will be turned into housing — and it should be,” said Karin Liljegren, founder and principal of L.A.-based architecture firm Omgivning, which specializes in adaptive reuse.

The audio version of this article can be heard below.

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PODCAST: Adaptive Reuse with CREative Media

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CREative Media focuses on podcasts, webinars, and interviews about commercial real estate development, investment, and architecture. Our very own Roberto Vazquez was a guest on CREative Media's podcast. He was interviewed about our favorite subject, Adaptive Reuse. He talks about it's importance and it's benefits to the community that reaches beyond Los Angeles.

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Omgivning Wins 2021 AIA Next LA Award for Sub/Merge and Hidden Gardens

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Omgivning is the 2021 AIA Los Angeles Design Awards recipient of the Next LA Multi Unit Residential Merit Award for both Hidden Gardens and Sub/Merge.

These are the two entries that we submitted and won for the Los Angeles Low Rise Challenge from earlier in the year. Both concepts focus on creating community-based housing using existing lots in the city.

AIA Los Angeles had two events in the Fall of 2021, one live at SoFi Stadium where Karin accepted the award, and a virtual event where lead designer Albert Escobar spoke a bit about the project and the win.

Watch this portion of the acceptance speech (it's only three and a half minutes).

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Our Recommendations to reform policies related to L.A.’s Non-Ductile Concrete Buildings

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Thinking Beyond The Ordinance

Creating a framework for reform to ensure economic viability, improve housing security, and foster sustainability

An Omgivning-led white paper report aims to contribute ideas and solutions for Los Angeles' post-earthquake resilience of non-ductile concrete buildings. To better prepare for Southern California’s next big earthquake, we spearheaded a team of stakeholders, including architects, engineers, city agencies and advocacy groups, with a white paper seeking to provide recommendations to reform the City of L.A.’s Non-Ductile Concrete (NDC) Ordinance. Constituting most concrete buildings erected before the 1976 L.A. City Building Code, “Non-Ductile” buildings are often brittle or inflexible due to minimal steel reinforcing, and therefore have not been safely reinforced to sustain earthquake damage. As currently written, L.A.’s NDC Ordinance requires all concrete buildings designed prior to January 13, 1977 to achieve minimum structural requirements within 25 years, or be demolished.

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WATCH: Omgivning Speaks on the Lesser Known Historic Buildings in Los Angeles

AIA LA Background Buildings

In sync with the relaunch of the AIA Los Angeles Historic Resources Committee and a refocused mission centered on Adaptive Reuse (historic preservation that is future oriented), this inaugural event from AIA Los Angeles brings together four distinguished panelists listed below to bring attention to both “Background Buildings” that define the character of Downtown Los Angeles, as well as the forthcoming Downtown Community Plan Update (DTLA 2040) that will incentivize their preservation.

In addition to learning about “Background Buildings” and DTLA 2040, attendees were also presented case studies of recent projects that exemplify the latest efforts to preserve and celebrate “Background Buildings,” which inlcludes Omgvining projects. Attendees also were invited to engage the panelists during a Q&A.

Watch the full talk.

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Low Rise Featured in the New York Times

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The New York Times Architecture critic Michael Kimmelman writes about the Low Rise Design Competition. This nationwide recognition of our winning entries puts a spotlight on the need for sustainable communities in Los Angeles.

Read the article here.

NYT "Los Angeles Has a Housing Crisis. Can Design Help?" PDF Article

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Alta Roundtable: The Great Reset

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Alta Magazine inteviews Karin on the Future of Coworking Space Design

Alta Journal organized a virtual roundtable with the heads of three prominent California-based design firms: our very own, Karin Liljegren, David Galullo, the CEO and chief creative officer of San Francisco–based Rapt Studio, and Primo Orpilla, the principal and cofounder of S.F.-based Studio O+A. Their prognosis: you’ll be more productive—and happier to see your colleagues—than ever before.

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