Office buildings need tenants; people need homes. Office-to-housing conversions could be the answer, says a California architecture firm.
Emptied-out office buildings probably won’t fill up any time soon, as the remote-work trend looks to outlast the pandemic, according to news reports and research. At the same time, the nation’s housing shortage has gone from bad to worse, with over 5 million homes now needed to meet demand, according to research from Realtor.com.
But both challenges could be addressed by converting offices into housing, according to a recent research report by BAR Architects, an architectural, interior design, and planning firm based in San Francisco. It’s an option that cities across the country, faced with unused or underused office buildings, have been considering.
In its report, BAR Architects analyzed five California office buildings, dating from the early 1900s through the 1970s, as sites for hypothetical office-to-housing conversions: two each in Los Angeles and San Francisco and one in San Jose. Along with collaborators Holmes Structures, Holmes Fire, Interface Engineering, TBD Consultants, and Plant Construction, BAR Architects explored the potential opportunities and challenges involved in such conversions.