Theme Building

Theme Building

The Theme Building is a landmark structure at Los Angeles International Airport within the Westchester neighborhood of the City of Los Angeles. It opened in 1961.

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 restaurant was once a revolving restaurant which provided a rotating view of the urban area of the LAX airport and is suspended beneath two intersecting arches that form the legs. Like most of the few revolving restaurants built in the early 1960s, the huge cost of maintaining the revolving machinery forced the conversion to a conventional, stationary venue, so patrons no longer benefit from the once spectacular continuously changing view that could once be seen from the 360° windows of this unique structure.

The Los Angeles City Council designated the 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 roof of the "Theme Building", but after the September 11 attacks, the rooftop was closed off to everyone for security reasons. It was once said the rooftop 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 only as high as the restaurant, and a hollow,stucco-covered steel truss constituting the upper half.

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. [cite news| url= | title=Spruced-up Encounter Restaurant to reopen Monday at LAX | first=Art | last=Marroquin | work=Los Angeles Daily News | date=2007-11-11 | accessdate=2007-11-11] . Delaware North Companies Travel Hospitality Services operates the restauarant. It is in a pre-security area of the airport.: []

In Popular Culture

* The Theme Building appears as part of Liberty City International Airport in the video game "Grand Theft Auto III".
* It reappears again as part of the airport in Los Santos, a city based on Los Angeles, in the video game "".


External links

* [ Encounter Restaurant website]
* [ Theme Building] via USC
* [ Theme Building] via Emporis

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