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Space Age Restaurant at LAX Closes After Shedding Stucco Skin

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Image courtesy LAX.


The Encounter Restaurant, atop Los Angeles International Airport’s landmark Theme Building, has been shuttered after a 1,000-pound, 5-foot-by-10-foot piece of stucco fell from its parabola-shaped arches last month.

Designed by Pereira & Luckman Associates, Welton Becket & Associates, and Paul R. Williams, the Theme Building opened in 1961 and was landmarked in 1992. Its 135-foot-high, non-load-bearing steel arches, which appear to support the glass-enclosed restaurant, symbolized Los Angeles’s optimistic take on a space age future. Airport engineers have discovered water damage in the stucco skin near the arches’ upper parts. Fears that more pieces might fall prompted them to close the restaurant.

Emergency repairs are expected take roughly six months. A contractor has yet to be named. Ground-level offices, a deli-cafeteria, and airport commissary will remain open during this work. Although the Theme Building underwent a $3 million, six-month upgrade in 1999, inspections of the upper arches at the time revealed no problems. That project focused on renovating the underside of a cross bridge that forms the roof of the Encounter Restaurant.

Tony Illia