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Griffith Observatory Dome Sheds Its Leaky Roof Tiles

Replacement is part of the facility's $83-million renovation, which is about 20% complete.

August 02, 2003|Joy L. Woodson | Times Staff Writer

Workers atop Griffith Observatory removed most of the 489 copper panels from the main dome this week as part of an $83-million construction project, which is about 20% complete.

The removal makes way for the dome's new roof, which will replace one that leaked so much that water was caught in more than 200 buckets.

"People don't realize how leaky that roof was," said director Edwin Krupp.

The project's three components include restoring original grandeur, expanding underground and updating the planetarium theater.

Construction on the underground area, which will include exhibit spaces and food services, has begun. And the observatory's intricate Art Deco details have been exposed after removing concrete that covered them for years."For 68 years, it hadn't been touched and was basically falling apart," Sammy Wong, architectural project manager, said of the observatory.

The project is scheduled for completion in summer 2005 with a grand reopening later that year.

In the meantime, visitors may go to the Griffith Observatory satellite facility, three buildings south of the parking lot for the Los Angeles Zoo and the Autry Museum of Western Heritage.

Workers wheel out at least one portable telescope for star gazing, Krupp said. "People are especially grateful that there is access to a telescope at night."

Attendance is down to about 50 to 100 people a day, a fraction of the 2 million visitors the observatory usually gets each year, Krupp said.

However, he expects a bigger crowd as interest in viewing Mars grows; there will be a Mars celebration later this month at the satellite facility.

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