Design Partner Olin McKenzie Speaks on Urban Revitalization

SOM Design Partner Olin McKenzie recently spoke among local design leaders at the event, “Urban Revitalization: The Eighth Annual Architects Panel” presented by the Los Angeles Headquarters Association, a member-driven network that engages the region’s diverse leaders through collaboration and advocacy to promote business growth.

The insightful dialogue on urban revitalization engaged a panel of esteemed Los Angeles-based architects and design thought leaders to dive into the opportunities and challenges of a post-pandemic reality, including the return to the office. 

Benefits discussed regarding a return include collaboration, building the firm’s culture, and mentorship. By maintaining remote work culture, panelists acknowledged drawbacks including less vitality and amenities in the urban core, among increased concerns regarding safety. 

Panelists also discussed residential conversions, utilizing vacant office space. Considerations include change-of-use triggers, codes, egress, access to natural ventilation, new occupancy space requirements, and construction and financing costs. Challenges extend to the outdoors, as well, with conversions driving the need for improved transit options along with outdoor public space and programming to engage residents. 

Looking more broadly at adaptive reuse and urban infill projects, McKenzie cited examples of other SOM projects including the newly awarded student housing at UC Santa Barbara. The panel also discussed alternative transportation methods, citing the gondola project joining LA’s Dodger Stadium to Union Station and McKenzie’s work on East River Skyway, a similar proposed gondola project in New York.