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The Theme Building is a landmark structure at the Los Angeles International Airport within the Westchester neighborhood of the city of Los Angeles. It opened in 1961, and is an example of the Mid-Century modern influenced design school known as "Googie" or "Populuxe."
The distinctive white building resembles a flying saucer that has landed on its four legs. It was designed by a team of architects and engineers headed by William Pereira and Charles Luckman, that also included Paul Williams and Welton Becket. The initial design of the building was created by James Langenheim, of the Pereira-Luckman firm.
The Los Angeles City Council designated the once rotating building a cultural and historical monument (no.570) in 1992. A $4 million renovation, with retro-futuristic interior and electric lighting designed by Walt Disney Imagineering, was completed before the "Encounter Restaurant" opened there in 1997. At one time, tourists and passengers were able to take the elevator up to the Observation Level of the "Theme Building", but after the September 11 attacks, the Observation Level was closed off to everyone for security reasons. It was once said the Observation Level would reopen for public use, but that was determined to be a rumor.
The original design for the airport created by Pereira & Luckman in 1959 had all the terminal buildings and parking structures connected to a huge glass dome, which would serve as a central hub for traffic circulation. The plan was eventually scaled down considerably and the terminals were constructed elsewhere on the property. The Theme Building was subsequently built to mark the spot intended for the dome structure, as a reminder of the original plan.
The appearance of the building as a single homogenous structure is a cleverly constructed illusion. The building's two crossed arches actually consist of four steel-reinforced concrete legs that extend approximately 15' above the ground, and a hollow, stucco-covered steel truss constituting the remaining lower arches and entire upper arches.
The Encounter Restaurant was closed in March 2007 for repairs after a half-ton piece of the stucco skin on the upper arches crashed onto the roof of the restaurant, and reopened on November 12, 2007. Delaware North Companies Travel Hospitality Services operates the restaurant. It is in a pre-security area of the airport.
- ^ "The "Theme Building," Los Angeles International Airport". University of Southern California. http://cwis.usc.edu/dept/LAS/history/historylab/LAPUHK/Text/Concepts/Icons/Icons_LAX.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-18.
- ^ Marroquin, Art (2007-11-11). "Spruced-up Encounter Restaurant to reopen Monday at LAX". Los Angeles Daily News. http://origin.dailynews.com/news/ci_7430516. Retrieved 2007-11-11.