Home Economy Even before the pandemic, office buildings were in trouble

Even before the pandemic, office buildings were in trouble

by SuperiorInvest

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Office buildings across Canada have struggled with high vacancy rates for years, and the rise of telecommuting has only exacerbated the crisis.

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This week on Down to Business, Steven Paynter, Toronto principal at Gensler, the world’s largest architecture and interior design firm, talked about the future of the office building.

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During the pandemic, the city of Calgary hired Gensler to study whether it would be practical to convert many of its vacant office buildings into residential units, and Gensler explained what he found.

Such conversions can help cities kill two birds with one stone — adding more housing while helping to offset some of the costs of empty office buildings that deprive them of tax revenue, hurt local retail and have many other harmful effects.

But Paynter also said the office building suffers from a number of woes, and the reasons many buildings are vacant won’t go away anytime soon. As always, the interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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