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LAX’s Announces Closing Of Encounter Restaurant During Exterior Renovation


LOS ANGELES, CA -- The popular, space-aged themed Encounter Restaurant at the top of Los Angeles International Airport’s landmark Theme Building will be closed until further notice while renovation to the upper arches is performed. Ground-level offices, the City Deli cafeteria, and the airport’s commissary that provides food to the rest of the airport’s concessions will remain open. The renovation project is expected to last approximately six months. However, the restaurant is expected to open much sooner.

The renovation will be to the upper arches above the Encounter Restaurant and will include the stucco “skin” of the spider-like, futuristic structure. The upper arches are decorative and do not provide structural support for the glass-encased restaurant. The upper arches have not been renovated since they were erected in the late 1950s.

The renovation was scheduled after a 1,000-pound, 5-foot-by-10-foot piece of the stucco “skin” was discovered to have fallen off the underside of the east upper arch two Saturdays ago. Airport workers immediately installed protective, tunnel-like scaffolding over the entrances to the Theme Building while visual inspection from the restaurant’s roof-top was conducted and while awaiting the arrival yesterday of a 100-foot-tall crane from which engineers could inspect more closely. After airport engineers and inspectors reported late yesterday afternoon that there was water seepage into the stucco on the topside of the arch and the possibility of other pieces of stucco falling onto the rooftop of the restaurant, airport officials decided to ask the Encounter Restaurant manager to close the restaurant early last night.

The last major renovation of the Theme Building was completed April 1999, when a $3-million, six-month project included renovating the underside of the cross bridge that forms the roof of the Encounter Restaurant and the bottom of the restaurant with new galvanized steel, stucco and painting. At that time, inspection of the upper arches revealed no problems.

The Theme Building was completed in August 1961 at a cost of $2.2 million. Architects Pereira & Luckman Associates, Welton Becket & Associates, and Paul R. Williams designed the building’s 135-foot-high parabolic arches to symbolize the optimism of a futuristic Los Angeles in the space age. In 1992, the Los Angeles City Council designated the Theme Building a cultural and historical monument.

The landmark building is often shown in commercial films and television newscasts as an establishing scene for Los Angeles and the airport. During renovation, the nightly color lighting program will continue.


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