The $12.3-million renovation project on the landmark Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has been honored by the California Preservation Foundation (CPF).

The organization selected the project for its Preservation Design Award for Preservation Technology, which recognizes projects that sustain the original form and extent of a structure while aiming to halt further deterioration through structural stability with a minimum of rebuilding, restoration, or rehabilitation.

The space-aged building’s renovation, completed last June, also garnered the CPF’s Trustees Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation, which is only awarded if a project is deemed to be of very high importance to California architecture or history. The CFP board called the Theme Building a great monument to mid-century design, airport officials said.

The awards were presented Oct. 16 during the 27th Annual Preservation Design Awards ceremony at the Getty Villa.

The Theme Building, a nearly 50-year-old cultural and historic landmark in the center of LAX’s passenger terminal area, began a three-year renovation in February 2007, after a 1,000-pound panel of the stucco “skin” fell off the underside of the east upper arch. Following removal/demolition of all of the stucco, the renovation included a seismic retrofit, reconstruction of the faÁade of the upper and lower arches, and accessibility upgrades for visitors with disabilities.

The building’s observation deck reopened to the public this summer after it was closed following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“The innovative design of the project allowed us to maintain the original look and feel of the building and helped us preserve a landmark building for the future enjoyment of city residents and visitors and travelers at LAX,” Deputy Executive Director David Shuter said.

The seismic retrofit involved installing a rooftop tuned mass damper (TMD) containing 600 tons of steel added to the top core. The device will absorb violent motion caused by an earthquake by counterbalancing with harmonic vibrations of its own. Engineers said the TMD at LAX is the first of its kind in the nation, and it was considered the most difficult and intricate part of the restoration project.

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