The adaptive reuse of older buildings in urban areas has increasingly gained popularity in recent years. In 1999, the City of Los Angeles passed the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance (ARO), with the intent to promote the reuse of older, under-utilized historic buildings in Downtown Los Angeles. For the past 15 years, Structural Focus has designed prominent adaptive reuse projects throughout the region including Red Bull’s North American Headquarters in Santa Monica, the Anaheim Citrus Packing House, and the Herman Miller Southern California Showroom.

The adaptive reuse trend has resulted in a renewed appreciation of older design elements for their contribution to the architectural feel of the space. For instance, the roof structure is a prominent feature with great aesthetic value. Many early 20th Century industrial buildings serving as manufacturing facilities used long span trusses to support the “saw-tooth” roof framing system in order to reduce the number of disruptive columns in the working space and allow indirect natural light into the space, as can be seen in the historic Anaheim Citrus Packing House (image below).

Anaheim Citrus Packing House - Historic saw-tooth roof framing.

Anaheim Citrus Packing House – Historic saw-tooth roof framing.

Mimicking older structural elements, such as the sawtooth and other open roof systems, in ground-up projects has become a popular practice as owners and developers begin to value older design features. For instance, in a new creative office building or commercial space, long open column-free spans may not be required for function, so structural engineers are able to include columns to reduce spans and design a more efficient roof shape that still mimics the historic open roof framing. The Masonic Temple Retail, a new ground up commercial property in Glendale, features a new roof structure designed to mimic the historic “saw-tooth” roof framing system. The exposed “saw-tooth” roof framing (image below) creates a high open ceiling and provides a clerestory to allow indirect lighting. The Shake Shack feature in LA Eater illustrates the final roof structure.

The Masonic Temple Retail - Redesigned saw-tooth roof framing using columns.

The Masonic Temple Retail – Redesigned saw-tooth roof framing using columns.