Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, more companies have offered remote work options for their employees, or have even switched to working entirely remotely – leaving empty office buildings a new fixture in many cities. In July 2023, Boston’s Planning and Development Agency announced a pilot program to offer incentives to building developers who convert office buildings to residential housing.

As engineers who study buildings, Iowa State University professor of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering Jenny Baker and assistant professor of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering Leah Mo wanted to know if these empty spaces could be converted to residential buildings, and what hurdles developers would face.

While converting office buildings to multi-family residential involves many considerations – including zoning codes, real estate values and structural issues – certain buildings may be good candidates for this type of conversion. Here’s what it would take to remodel these spaces.

Read Baker and Mo’s full article in The Conversation here.