Los Angeles, CA

Griffith Observatory


Griffith Observatory, a reinforced concrete structure on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood, is a Designated Historic-Cultural Monument for the City of Los Angeles. The Art Deco observatory, constructed in 1935, was envisioned and funded by Col. Griffith J. Griffith and designed by Austin and Ashley with decorative concrete elements and distinctive components, such as an 85 ft dia. copper-clad planetarium dome and cupola, coelostat, and telescope domes. SGH consulted on the building enclosure as part of the observatory’s major expansion and renovation.

Although the building was in generally good condition, it suffered from leakage and some of the waterproofing systems had exceeded their useful life. SGH consulted on the waterproofing design and materials conservation. Highlights of our work include:

  • Investigating exterior walls, copper-domed roofs, roof deck and stairs, planetarium promenade, interior marble flooring, and travertine panels
  • Using a 125 ft boom lift to examine and water test the planetarium dome
  • Designing and observing mockups for paint removal, concrete repair, parge coating, elastomeric coatings and anti-graffiti coatings, and stone floor cleaning
  • Developing several alternative repair schemes for review by the design team and City of Los Angeles

In addition to restoring the building, the city wished to expand the observatory. The 40,000 sq ft expansion, discretely constructed below grade and in building elements carefully woven into the original exterior, permitted the original building to appear much as it has since 1935. SGH designed waterproofing for the underground addition and developed restoration procedures for marble floors and travertine walls.

Project Summary



Completion Date


Repair & Rehabilitation | Preservation
Building Enclosures
Culture & Entertainment
Levin & Associates Architects | Pfeiffer Partners Architects
Specialized Capabilities
Preservation | Roofing & Waterproofing

Key team members

Carolyn Searls
Carolyn Searls
Senior Principal