Photo by Tim Griffith

Griffith Observatory

Los Angeles, CA

Market: Cultural




2008 AIA Honor Awards for Architecture, AIA
2007 Preservation Design Award, Rehabilitation category, California Preservation Foundation
2007 National Preservation Award, National Trust for Historic Preservation
2007 Macerich Company Grand Prize Award, Los Angeles Architecture Awards
2007 Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Award, Los Angeles Conservancy
2007 Gold Award, Building Design and Construction Reconstruction Awards
2007 California Preservation Foundation Trustees Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation, California Preservation Foundation
2007 Architectural Awards Grand Prize, Los Angeles Business Council
Griffith Observatory

Photo by Tim Griffith

Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory, which sits 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. SGH consulted on materials conservation and waterproofing as part of the observatory’s major expansion and renovation.


Scope | Solutions


SGH provided building enclosure consulting services for the reinforced concrete structure featuring cast concrete decorative elements and distinctive components, such as the 85 ft dia. copper-clad planetarium dome and cupola, coelostat, and telescope domes. Although the building was in generally good condition, it suffered from leakage and some of the waterproofing systems had exceeded their useful life. Highlights of SGH’s work the following:

  • Investigated exterior walls, copper-domed roofs, roof deck and stairs, planetarium promenade, interior marble flooring, and travertine panels

  • Used a 125 ft boom lift to examine and water test the planetarium dome

  • Designed and observed installation of mockups for paint removal, concrete repair, parge coating, elastomeric coatings and anti-graffiti coatings and performed stone floor cleaning mockups

  • Developed several alternative repair schemes for review by the architects 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 placed primarily underground 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.

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