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LAX facelift becomes bigger project

A project initially seen as patchwork conducted on the Theme Building at Los Angeles International (LAX) turned up additional corrosion in the building’s steel skeleton, a decaying concrete core and hazardous materials within that has turned the fix into a more major project.
LAX officials hope to re-open Encounter, the Theme Building’s restaurant sometime in mid-to-late October. But construction that will rebuild the exterior of the structure and upgrade its ability to withstand earthquakes and high winds will likely last through late 2008, says Glenn Ito, senior civil engineer.

The patch job started when a half-ton piece of stucco fell from the building’s upper arches. Officials have worked since to remove hazardous materials such as asbestos-laden covering. It was during this work that they uncovered the additional issues that are lengthening the process.
The Los Angeles World Airports Board of Airport Commissioners initially budgeted $10M for the project. But while Ito says planners are trying to stay within that original figure they have not yet finished plans and thus haven’t arrived at a final budget request.

No date is set in stone, but Gin Wong Associates, which in August was awarded a $1.1M contract by the board to draw plans for a redesign of the building’s arches and core, are targeting November to present the board with plans and a report. Ito says with the hazardous materials now removed LAX officials’ hope to keep the restaurant open during construction.

“We’re doing everything we can,” he says. “It is a very heavily used airport.”

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