[Photos by Elizabeth Daniels]
After three years, construction work on LAX's iconic Theme Building will wrap up this spring. Notably, the observation deck, which has been closed since the 9/11 attacks, will reopen following the building's grand opening (and hey, the telescopes on the observation deck still work!). According to a spokesperson for Los Angeles World Airports, the visiting schedule for the observation deck is still being determined, but it's likely to be open during set hours (there'd been chatter that perhaps visiting the deck would be by appointment only). Additionally, the deck will have a staffer overseeing the area. In anticipation of the re-opening the folks at construction company Tower General Contractors provided a mini-preview of the observation deck and other parts of the building.
Nato Flores, president of Tower General Contractors, tells Curbed their work should be finished in May. Parts of the building closed in 2007 when a chunk of plaster fell off one of the arches (the restaurant, Encounter, re-opened shortly after the plaster mishap). Since then, the arches' covering has been stripped and the arches have been reinforced with a diamond-shaped steel support structure.
Water seepage was blamed for the plaster failure and the rust throughout the metal skeleton, so the arches were recovered in a water-resistant polymer and a ventilation system was installed that pulls exhaust and moisture from the kitchen through the arches and out through a vent at their nexus.
The other big addition is a tuned mass damper designed to mitigate earthquake damage. Steel plates totaling 1.2 million pounds (about the weight of an Airbus A380) are stacked on top of shock absorbers, and in an earthquake the system will keep the building from swaying too violently or matching the frequency of the earthquake. The whole thing adds about six feet to the top of the building's central cylinder. Flores tells Curbed this is the first system of its kind in the US. UCLA will do an earthquake test when the building is finished.
· My LAX [Curbed LA]