Publications

- December 1, 2022: Vol. 14, Number 11

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Risking obsolescence: Ageing buildings, ESG and the quest for resilience

by Alex Frew McMillan

The office became a lonely place during the pandemic. So, too, the shopping mall. Now that those premises are generally up and running for workers and shoppers, occupiers face a battle to lure their previous occupants back. Why return to four stark walls and a cubicle when you can work from home? Why manhandle goods and share canned air with fellow mall goers when you can order what you want online, hassle-free, and have it delivered to your door?

Buildings face a variety of challenges to remain current. The risk of obsolescence can come in terms of the physical structure of the building, but also its location, as well as the nebulous concept of “user experience”, where smart gadgetry and app integration can set a property apart.

It may be this variety of functions that explains the wide range of lifespans cited for a building. While the Getty Center’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative notes that traditional masonry-and-wood structures hold up well for 12

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