COMPARED to other cities its size, Los Angeles has always been short on icons of public architecture; when one falls out of commission, as the Griffith Observatory did 4 1/2 years ago, we notice the absence all the more.
So it is that Angelenos -- particularly students and their teachers, whose field trip roster has been missing one of its top attractions -- have been impatiently waiting for the observatory, which has been undergoing a major restoration and addition, to reopen. It finally will in November.
The work on the 1935 building and its three domes, which cost $93 million, has been overseen by Norman Pfeiffer, formerly a partner in the prominent firm Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer and now running his own Los Angeles practice, and L.A.'s Brenda Levin & Associates, a specialist in historical preservation.
Because the leaders of the observatory wanted to maintain the building's architectural presence as seen from the city below -- what director Ed Krupp has called "the conscience of the original building" -- the new construction, designed by Pfeiffer, will be essentially invisible from afar.