ACTION Before Aftershock!

By Ali Sahabi, GEC, Optimum Seismic

Adaptive Reuse Can Make the Most of Your Seismic Retrofit

The Greater Los Angeles area is one of the best real estate markets in the United States.

That’s why a growing number of local apartment owners are now looking at renovations called adaptive reuse to repurpose the living space in their buildings to meet current and future needs.

Adaptive reuse involves the redesigning of interior spaces in buildings that have outlived their original purpose in order to better serve the needs of communities today. It may involve the conversion of a warehouse into a shopping mall, a factory into live/work lofts, an old church into a restaurant, or stately courthouses into museums.

We have performed many adaptive reuse projects over the years, including the conversion of a historic hotel in downtown San Luis Obispo into a mixed-use project of 48 apartments and retail; a similar conversion at the Mayfair Hotel in downtown Pomona; and the conversion of some several Victorian homes into student housing for the University of Southern California.

In the vast majority of these and other adaptive reuse projects, it’s not simply about reusing the space inside the building shell, it involves other upgrades as well such as seismic retrofits, electrical rewiring, plumbing replacement and other improvements that add significant value to the building.

The adaptive reuse of buildings has brought significant positive change in downtown communities throughout the U.S. Just think of the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade or the Arts District in Los Angeles.

All of these examples have completely reinvented these neighborhoods into transformational cultural and commercial centers that draw in tourism and bring significant income not only to the cities and communities, but to the building owners as well.

The Process

It’s best to have a general idea of the type of use you would like to have for your building.

Take a look at the neighborhood surrounding your property and see if other building uses might complement your idea for a new use for your building. In many instances, existing fixtures can be integrated into a trendy design that adds significant value to a building. Think about a bank vault located within a night club, for instance; old signage in the décor of a new restaurant; or post office boxes inside a new shared office space.

In terms of apartment buildings, units can be redesigned to meet modern demands such as open areas for kitchens and living spaces, upgraded bathrooms, and expansive closet space.

Community space should also be considered, inte grating common areas for gyms and gathering spaces.

Once you determine the new functionality of the spaces within your building, consider integrating some of the unique features your building currently has and how that can be harnessed to dramatically enhance the value of your adaptive reuse project.

Adaptive reuse is the perfect complement to any seismic retrofit project. And like the retrofit itself, it will give your building long-lasting value and functionality for many, many years to come.

Ali Sahabi has been a licensed General Engineering Contractor (GEC) since 1993, and is a principal at Optimum Seismic, Inc. He has completed hundreds of seismic retrofitting and adaptive reuse projects for multifamily residential, commercial, and industrial buildings throughout California.