Year-long construction starts in August. Reconstruction of the exterior of the landmark Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is scheduled to begin later this summer.

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners approved a $9.4-million contract Monday, July 7th, for Tower General Contractors of Sun Valley to reconstruct the stucco “skin” and improve seismic resistance of the LAX Theme Building.

The contract calls for reconstruction of all four arch facades to match the historic shape and texture of the futuristic structure, airport officials said. The central core walls and the perimeter screen wall will be seismically strengthened, the parapet walls will be reconstructed, and mechanical ventilation will be installed inside the four arches.

Plans also include re-coating of the building and arches, installation of a seismic damping system, new arch bracing, and strengthening of the basement and first floor concrete shear walls to improve seismic resistance.

The upgrades will be consistent with Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, officials said.

The 12-month reconstruction work is expected to begin in early August.

Reconstruction of the building was initiated after a 1,000-pound section of stucco coating detached from an upper arch of the Theme Building and fell onto the roof overhang above the Encounter Restaurant in February last year.

After engineering building inspectors determined a public safety hazard existed with possible detachment of other stucco sections due to water seepage on the top side of the upper arches, all of the stucco sections on both the upper and lower arches were removed, officials said.

The Theme Building was completed in August 1961 at a cost of $2.2 million. Architects designed the building’s 135-foot-high parabolic arches to symbolize the optimism of a futuristic Los Angeles in the space age, airport officials said.

The Los Angeles City Council designated the Theme Building a cultural and historical monument in 1992. The building houses the space-age-themed Encounter Restaurant, offices, a public cafeteria and a commissary where food is prepared for all of the airport’s food/beverage concessions.

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