Renovation and Expansion
Los Angeles, California
Griffith Observatory has long been one of Los Angeles’ most visible and beloved landmarks, hosting over 70 million visitors since opening its doors in 1935. However, after decades of heavy use, the building was badly in need of repairs and upgrades – both to its physical facilities as well as its exhibits. Working within the criteria of preserving the building’s appearance from the exterior, including retaining its expansive front lawn, our approach involved placing over 40,000 square feet of new exhibition space below grade, entirely removing and rebuilding the lawn to its original specificatons. The only new elements visible on the building’s western exterior are a café and the Gottlieb Transit Corridor, an accurate astronomical instrument that tracks the transit of the sun along the terrestrial and celestial meridians throughout the year.
27,300 sf existing; 39,600 sf addition
Program & Highlights
202-seat lecture hall
Multilevel exhibit hall
An Historic-Cultural Monument
2008 AIA Institute, Honors Award
2007 National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Preservation Honor Award
2007 California Preservation Foundation, Trustee’s Award for Excellence in Preservation
2007 AIA/LA Design Awards, Citation
Ingrid Spencer,"Honor Awards: Architecture, Griffith Observatory," Architectural Record, May, 2008
Eve Kahn, "Shining Star," Traditional Building, August 2007
Suzanne Stephens, "Not Only a Craft," Architectural Record, June 2007
Russell Fortmeyer, "Griffith Observatory", "The cosmic ballet of the Griffith Observatory," Architectural Record, June 2007
Nick Street, "Jews in Space," The Jewish Journal, November 3-9, 2006
Edward Rothstein, "A Human-Centered Cosmos in Domes to the Stars," The New York Times, November 2, 2006
Christopher Hawthorne, "An icon's hidden virtues," Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2006
Jesse Katz & Felipe Dupouv, "Eye on the Sky," Los Angeles Magazine, November 2006"Reabren el Observatorio Griffith," La Opinion, October 4, 2006
Loreta Hall, Underground Building: More than Meets the Eye, Sanger, CA: Quill Driver Books, 2004
Associate Architect: Levin & Associates Architects
Civil Engineer: Psomas and Associates
Structural Engineer: Miyamoto International, Inc.
MEP: M-E Engineers, Inc.
Theater/Planetarium/AV: Auerbach & Associates
Acoustics: McKay Conant Brook, Inc.
Exhibits: C & G Partners LLC
General Contractor: S. J. Amoroso
Landscape Architect: Melendrez Design Partners
Lighting: Horton-Lees Brogden Lighting Design, Inc.
Photographer: Tim Griffith
“It was a world-class facility when it opened in 1935—it now is again in the 21st century.”
—Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa