The Role and Impact of Preservation in L.A.

In this Q&A, architect Brenda Levin talks about the role of preservation in Los Angeles, and how restoring and reusing some of the city's historic buildings has created a long-term benefit.
April 5, 2011, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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She also discusses how a change in the city's code allowed underused properties in downtown to be reused, fueling a boom in the area's population.

"The Architect's Newspaper: What do you think were the biggest factors that contributed to the city's growing support for preservation?

Levin: I'd say the single biggest change in policy was Downtown's Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, which allowed you to convert commercial buildings to residential. That's when you saw the emergence of the Old Bank District on Spring Street, all these buildings that had once been the financial center of Los Angeles. That all moved up to Bunker Hill in the 60's. Those buildings remained vacant until the late 90s when the adaptive ordinance came into effect. Then, all of a sudden they had another life.

Before that, Broadway particularly was surviving on ground floor retail rent. It would support the entire building. The rest of the building could be vacant. With the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, the codes were modified to allow conversion without bringing the entire building up to code as a commercial structure and all of a sudden you saw this incredible resurgence in downtown Los Angeles, where the population went from the tens of thousands to close to 50,000."

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Published on Monday, April 4, 2011 in The Architect's Newspaper
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