Old Made New: HLW International Gives A Fresh Look To The New Workplace


Adaptive re-use takes imagination and fortitude. In the past developers have simply demolished outdated or outmoded structures and built anew. Increasingly, they’re finding that re-purposing the past is a way of both mining the value inherent in a property and responding to the need for flexible, high-performance workspaces that respect both the public realm and the environment. Agensys and The Reserve are recent Los Angeles projects by the venerable architectural, planning and engineering firm HLW International, founded in 1885 in New York City and now a global presence with offices and projects all over the world.

Building a dramatic new low-rise headquarters with public spaces for the cancer treatent and research firm Agensys in Santa Monica, HLW stripped down existing industrial sheds on the site (top and below) transforming them into employee amenity spaces and a public sculpture garden adjacent to the classic adaptive re-use project from the ’90s, the Bergamot Station Arts Center, a former rail depot.

The Reserve was a grim surplus US Post Office facility in Playa Vista– in that classic US Post Office Brutalist Style– with an enviable location near LAX, the Ballona Wetlands and a short bike ride to the beach. HLW opened up the interior of the vast structure with new offices arranged both around a new central atrium and looking out onto a newly landscaped campus, providing a forward-looking and creative space to work in.

Sensitive projects like The Reserve are a factor in making nearby Culver City and Mar Vista such hot residential neighborhoods as developers look at the area with new eyes– the flythrough video of this visionary project says it best.