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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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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CCA Partners with Omgivning For Their Adaptive Reuse White Paper

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Central City Association (CCA) White Paper Provides Framework for Expanding Adaptive Reuse to Support Economic Recovery and Housing Creation

Central City Association (CCA) is an advocacy organization focusing on Central Los Angeles and Downtown. As the premiere adaptive reuse architects of Los Angeles, Omgivning partned with CCA to release a white paper on adaptive reuse's power to spur economic recovery from the pandemic and address the deep housing shortage, homelessness, and affordability crisis in the City of Los Angeles.

Adaptive reuse -- the repurposing of underutilized buildings to meet communities' present needs -- is a proven, successful practice that is especially key now as cities navigate changing demands to office, retail, hotel spaces and more.

CCA provides a set of recommendations, including allowing adaptive reuse citywide, that the City can implement now to convert obsolete buildings into housing and community-serving facilities.

Omgivning contributed heavily to the details in this report along with developer Tom Gilmore & Associates. Read the full white paper with a list of detailed recommendations at

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We're Committing to a 2030 Sustainable Action Plan!

AIA 2030

Did you can take up to 80 years for new, energy-efficient buildings to overcome the negative climate impact created during construction?

The places where we live, work and play represent the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in America, as well as around the world. The design and construction industry has made significant strides toward creating high performance buildings of all types and uses. As a result, the industry is positioned to have a profound impact by continuing to foster high building performance and reducing building-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Throughout our 12-year history, Omgivning has been working to combat climate change. It is our belief that when we maximize the potential of our existing buildings, we make a positive impact for our communities and our planet.

Omgivning’s 5 Key Strategies to combat climate change:

  1. Challenge and Advocate for policy innovation that supports building reuse
  2. Enhance existing building Energy Performance and data tracking
  3. Prioritize Urban Revitalization which strengthens urban centers, one building at a time
  4. Design durable, Resource-Sensitive buildings
  5. Connect building users to natural systems with a focus on Wellness and Comfort

Click full screen to read about our plan.

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California Historical Building Code and Incentivizing Reuse Webinar from the California Preservation Foundation and Omgivning

California Historic Building Code with Omgivning talk Banner

The California Historical Building Code and Incentivizing Reuse Historic buildings provide challenges in meeting today's building codes. However, the California Historical Building Code (CHBC) is an alternative code to retain the historic character and features while meeting the accessibility and life safety mandates.

In the Fall of 2020 Karin Liljegren, FAIA and Joel Chappo, AIA of Omgivning presented a webinar on California Historic Building Code (CHBC) hosted by the California Preservation Foundation.

In this informative talk from Los Angeles's premier Adaptive Reuse Architecture and Interiors firm, Liljegren and Chappo discuss:

- Historic Broadway Commercial Reuse Bulletin: How LA City used the CHBC as a tool to incentivize redevelopment of an entire historic district
- Case Studies on applying Sections of the CHBC
- Applying the CHBC with Use & Occupancy, Fire Protection, Means of Egress, and Accessibility

Watch the full talk:

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Reimagining Spaces: Urban Reprogramming in Empty Retail Space

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In downtown Los Angeles, ground floor commercial spaces are typical to new residential and office buildings. Leaseholders of these spaces can present so much income volatility that they’re sometimes not even reflected in a developer's proforma. It is now crucial to fill the long-vacant commercial spaces below, especially when residential or office uses above are performing well. Through creative thinking and blended uses, our goal is to reinvigorate ground-floor spaces by creating revenue, making sure the lights stay on, and helping tenants engage the adjacent street frontage. Doing so reactivates connections to the public realm and allows the surrounding community to thrive.

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Reimagining Spaces: Light Industrial Building Reuse to Housing & Office

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Just outside of downtown Los Angeles and across LA County, we see thousands of existing industrial buildings that are too small and outdated to be useful to today’s industries. Their wide-scale demolition risks annihilating their rich potential. Typically, these industrial buildings are close to urban cores that have undergone revitalization, meaning that their purchase price is relatively high. These buildings are also typically located in neighborhoods that see little after-hours activity and may lack sidewalks and associated parking. These factors make their purchase not financially attractive to most investors, so they lie dormant.

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