Track 1: Decline vs. Revival: Tempering the Impulse to Tear Down and Start Over

General Abstract

Revitalizing Downtown Los Angeles’ Underutilized Buildings: Two Case Studies

Wednesday, September 26
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: HYATT-Grand B

This presentation will discuss revitalizing underutilized buildings in Downtown Los Angeles that suffered from the neglect of previous decades and lack of use. My presentation will highlight two case studies of recently rehabilitated historic buildings in Los Angeles into vital spaces while maintaining the historic integrity.

1. Rehabilitation of Ten-story Historic Building (433 S. Spring St.) - Conversion of historic Title Insurance and Trust Company building into Creative Office Space – multiple tenants with retail on street level. The historic high-rise built in 1926 by the Trust Company for their headquarters and they occupied the building until they moved out in 1977. Since then, it has been used by the garment industry and rented out for Hollywood filming. Occupancy rate was low. In 2012, a developer planned to convert the building and its adjacent annex into high-end condominiums. The condo project was abandoned in 2015 after partial demolition had commenced. A commercial real estate developer purchased the building in 2016 to convert it into creative office space.

2. Tenant Improvement of 2nd floor at Row DTLA (1318 East 7th Street- L.A. Terminal Market) – Rehabilitation of 25,000-square-foot unoccupied space within B-1, a two-story building at Row-DTLA for a clothing company that moved its headquarters in 2017. The design team had one main identity for single tenant: chic industrial. The large floor plans lent itself to open office areas with abundant daylight. Flex offices, conference rooms and manufacturing areas were designed and built in the center to retain the interrupted expanse of windows along the perimeter walls. The complex of buildings at ROW DTLA has become a vibrant mixed-use commercial center in the Arts District of Los Angeles and continues to attracts independent and emerging brands into its life.
Challenges to modernizing Historic buildings for contemporary use:
• Updating of lighting to LED, wiring for data/voice, high performing HVAC systems.
• Seismic upgrade without compromising integrity is a challenge. Hollow clay tile is clad with historic material such as marble and travertine, creating very heavy walls that are unforgiving in an earthquake.
• Making the difficult decision to sacrifice historic restrooms in order to accommodate new ADA-compliant restrooms
• Addressing current trends in interior design (i.e. removing historic plaster to expose historically covered brick) while retaining historic features and fabric

This presentation will discuss the following:

• Challenges to existing building envelope, circulation of historic core, materiality and accessibility
• Additions and Alterations that meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards
• Trends within the real estate developers that jeopardize character-defining features

Learning Objectives:

Justine M. Leong, AIA

Associate/ Architect
Architectural Resources Group

Justine is a registered architect with over 20 years’ experience in architecture and preservation. Justine’s dedication to Historic Preservation is embodied in her extensive professional career and volunteer work within the preservation community. She has worked with many clients in rehabilitating and adaptively reusing many significant landmarks in the region. A native Angeleno, Justine is active in her community and served on the Executive Board of Highland Park Heritage Trust from 2007-2015, While in the Bay Area, she also served on the City of San Jose’s Historic Landmarks Commission from 2002-2006, and led their Design Review Committee. Justine is well-acquainted with preservation rewards and challenges in both the Bay Area and Los Angeles.


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Ronald D. Staley, FAPT, Hon AIA-MI

Senior Vice President / Director of Historic Preservation
The Christman Company

Ron is a Senior Vice President with The Christman Company, a general contractor and construction manager, and leads the company’s Southeast Michigan Operations as well as serves as National Director of Historic Preservation with over 35 years construction experience. In 1992, Ron founded Christman’s historic preservation group . He's directed multiple highly visible, often public preservation projects to national and statewide awards for teamwork and unique delivery methods. Ron is a Honorary AIA Michigan and member of the College of Fellows of APT. Ron is also a two term governor appointee to the Michigan State Historic Preservation Review Board .


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Revitalizing Downtown Los Angeles’ Underutilized Buildings: Two Case Studies

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