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Morning Brief: Architecture, Holiday Mail And Piñatas

The view from the ground looking up at the front of the Metropolitan Building in downtown L.A. Just above the ground the word "Metropolitan" is carved out of the stone front of the building, underneath a stone arch.
The Metropolitan Building, which once housed medical and dental offices, is now home to 87 loft apartments.
(Brian Feinzimer for LAist)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Dec. 14.

If you’re reading this from the comfort of your own home because that’s where you work now, have you stopped to wonder what will become of your former office space?

Well, some people have! Architects, activists and city officials see possibility in the newly available buildings; if busy worker bees aren’t using them, why not turn them into residential dwellings in an effort to address the housing crisis?

The strategy is known as “adaptive reuse”; converting old buildings to fit the needs of the current moment. In L.A., adaptive reuse was tested in the early 2000’s, when city officials passed the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance with the goal of revitalizing downtown.

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The effort was a success: a recent research paper from UC Berkeley found that between 2014 and 2019, L.A. created more housing units on commercially zoned land than any other large California metro area — with the highest conversion rates in or near downtown.

Whether that will work in other parts of the city remains to be seen, but what is becoming clear is that the elusive “return-to-office” date is getting pushed well into 2022. Many local companies that expected to be back in person over the summer changed course as the delta variant spread, and omicron is having the same effect. Last week, Google became one of the largest employers to announce that U.S. workers wouldn’t return to the office as planned on Jan. 10.

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All of this is to say, your former cubicle may soon be someone’s bathroom — and that might be a good thing.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Follow along our live coverage of Eric Garcetti's hearing as officials vet him to be the next U.S. ambassador to India.
  • L.A. officials will reopen a grant program for family child care providers this month. 
  • South L.A. Councilmember Joe Buscaino has targeted more homeless encampments for clearing than any other councilman, so we took a look at how the required outreach is being handled. 
  • Wolf Connection, a nonprofit in Palmdale, connects clients struggling with their mental health with therapy wolves.
  • If you celebrate Christmas, deadlines to mail your packages and ensure they arrive in time for the holiday are fast approaching.

Before You Go ... This Week's Outdoor Pick: Piñata Making Party

Piñatas (Photo by delara-photos via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

It’s Maker Night at the Craft Contemporary, and the Piñata Design Studio guides attendees through an easy piñata-making workshop. In addition to leaving with a beautiful handmade object, you’ll learn about the piñata’s history in Mexican and indigenous celebrations.

Or, you could: Laugh the winter blues away at comedy shows. Catch a Christmas a cappella concert. View a boat parade. Hear Norman Lear talk about All in the Family. Taste modern Middle Eastern dishes at a one-night pop-up. And more.

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