Full Session with Abstracts

508419 - Historic Desmond Building – Retrofit and Adaptive Reuse

Friday, April 26
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: Bayhill 21-22

According to a Los Angeles Times report in Oct. 2013, many old concrete buildings in the city of Los Angeles will be destroyed in a major earthquake, exposing thousands to injury or death. Non-ductile concrete buildings built before 1980 were singled out as a particularly vulnerable structural type.

One such example is the historic non-ductile concrete Desmond building located in Los Angeles, California. Designed in 1916, the building was used as a Willys-Overland car dealership and then as a Desmond's department store warehouse. Instead of demolishing the at-risk structure, the original 75,000 sf five-story warehouse was transformed into high quality, creative office space with a 7000 sf sixth story addition. This building is the first of many potential renovations of historic properties located in the South Park district for creative office use. By renovating existing buildings in lieu of demolishing them for new construction it is possible to preserve the culture and history of the neighborhood while still achieving more “Class A” spaces and resilient structures.

The paper will present a case study of the innovative but rigorous approach taken to retrofit the existing structure while preserving its historic character. The goals of the project included maintaining the original look and feel of the industrial interiors for their reuse as creative office, and increasing the street appeal of the building through new storefronts and refurbishing of the original brick façade and industrial steel framed glass windows. An internal, perimeter concrete retrofit scheme was developed to mimic the original interior look in a non-intrusive manner, creating a seismically robust system in accordance with current seismic building codes without sacrificing historic character or occupant views. New foundation elements were provided surrounding the existing elements in order to limit required demolition. A new lightweight rooftop structure and terrace was added to provide additional floor space while also limiting gravity system retrofits.

The paper will not only review the structural design process, but also present completed building photos demonstrating how the exposed interior structural system both serves to preserve the historic exterior expression of the building while also providing a modern and efficient office space inside.

Rupa Garai

Associate Director
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Rupa Garai has over 12 years of experience as Structural Engineer working on projects such as mixed-use, commercial, airports, courthouses, residential, and office towers. She is a highly collaborative engineer who works with design teams to incorporate structural engineering concepts with architecture and other required systems. Rupa teaches collaborative design studios at Stanford University where she also received a Master degree in Structural Engineering.

She has worked on prestigious office tower projects and civic buildings like 222 South Main, San Bernardino Courthouse, and San Diego Courthouse. Her international portfolio includes projects in China and India like Poly International Plaza and Mumbai International Airport.


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508419 - Historic Desmond Building – Retrofit and Adaptive Reuse

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