One of LAX airport’s iconic buildings is the LAX Theme Building, hovering like an alien spaceship/UFO in the midst of the transportation hub. If you have enough of a layover in Los Angeles, we definitely recommend stopping by and having a cocktail or meal at the Scooby-Doo/Jetsons-themed restaurant, Encounters Restaurant (not withstanding that the name sounds like a strip club).
Built in 1961 by architects William Pereira and Charles Luckman, the LAX Theme Building was influenced by the “Googie” and “Popluxe” design schools and part of the Los Angeles Jet Age Terminal Construction Project. The original design, intended as the main ticketing area for the airport, with a large glass dome that linked to the terminals, never came to fruition. Unique to its design are 135 foot parabolic arches (it was the first structures in the United States to use supporting steel arches–900 tons worth–in this way). What does remain is an observatory desk that can be accessed for free on the weekends.
A $4 million dollar renovation was completed in 2010, retrofitted for earthquake resistance in by Walt Disney Imagineering, including the famous exterior lighting. Riding the elevator is a unique experience on its own, with mood lighting and awesome James Bond-like music (their website has the music playing as well).
The building isn’t within the security area of the airport, so anybody can check it out. And the bathroom in Encounters is worth a visit too.
Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.