Successful public-private partnership spearheads highly anticipated improvements to beloved and revered Los Angeles icon
Griffith Observatory News Release
2006 October 3
LOS ANGELES: Griffith Observatory officially reopens its doors to the public Friday, November 3, 2006, after completing a comprehensive and ambitious $93 million renovation and expansion project, it was announced today by Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles. The Observatory has been closed since January 6, 2002, to carry out the project that has been enabled by a singularly successful public-private partnership between the City of Los Angeles, Department of Recreation and Parks, which owns and operates the facility, and Friends Of The Observatory (FOTO), the Observatory's non-profit support organization.
The reopening of the Los Angeles cultural landmark, located on Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, will generate an unprecedented public demand for access. To address this, City and Observatory officials also outlined details of the temporary "By Reservation Only" visitor access program, which will ensure a high quality visitor experience through a timed-entry reservation and shuttle system.
"It is with great pride that we announce the November 3rd reopening date for Griffith Observatory, which has been an icon in Los Angeles for over 70 years," says Mayor Villaraigosa. "At this world-class Observatory, Angelenos, young and old, can learn about the stars and planets, and begin to comprehend the limitless nature of the universe--truly symbolic of the limitless possibilities of this great City."
Adds 4th District Councilmember Tom LaBonge: "Griffith Observatory is one of the best public spaces in the world if not the universe. What's so special about this renovation and expansion is the extraordinary public private partnership formed from supporters in Washington D.C., Sacramento, County of Los Angeles and the great City of Los Angeles and from local foundations and individuals. This is a very proud moment for Angelenos as we unveil one of our city's best loved landmarks as well as mark one of the greatest renewals of a civic building in the city's, if not the country's, history."
Griffith Observatory is a national leader in public astronomy, a beloved civic gathering place, and one of southern California's most popular attractions. After nearly 67 years of public use by roughly 70 million visitors, this is its first major capital improvement since opening in 1935. Over the last four years, the project has added 40,000 square feet and includes a large, multi-level exhibit gallery (Richard and Lois Gunther Depths of Space), a 200-seat presentation theater (Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon) and a new exhibit program featuring more than 60 new exhibits, plus a classroom, café, bookstore, and new entrances, elevators and ramps to improve access to/in the building.
To enhance the Observatory's ability to pursue its public astronomy mission, the project has developed a state-of the-art, immersive planetarium environment. The 300-seat Samuel Oschin Planetarium will feature a new "seamless" dome, new star projector, new digital laser projectors, and upgraded sound system and lighting.
"We live in an expanding universe, and Griffith Observatory has come up-to-date in the twenty-first century with new components that allow people to feel a little bit more at home in the universe than they did back in 1935," says Dr. E. C. Krupp, Director, Griffith Observatory.
"One of the fundamental principles of our effort was improving the quality of the experience for the visitors so it's more satisfying and complete," Krupp explains. "That meant improving the building, restoring it to its 1935 grandeur, expanding its technological horizons, and more than doubling the amount of public space so that people could spread out more. We wanted visitors to have features that would allow them to explore astronomy and to relax a few moments on this splendid piece of Los Angeles real estate, the junction of earth and sky."
Visitor Access Program
In response to the overwhelming number of projected visitors to the Observatory, a temporary visitor access program has been implemented, featuring a timed-entry and shuttle reservation system that will prevent long waits and overcrowding. In addition, 48 hours in advance, a limited number of timed-entry reservations will become available for hikers and cyclists who want to visit the Observatory.
"We know the reopening of Griffith Observatory will be of huge interest to the public, and so we've taken temporary steps to accommodate the demand in a way that will ensure a tremendous visitor experience yet still maintain normal traffic flows in and out of surrounding neighborhoods," says Jon Kirk Mukri, General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Recreations and Parks. "This effort includes a significant advertising campaign that is already underway throughout the Southland to inform potential visitors that now they must plan their visit in advance because entrance to the Observatory will be 'By Reservation Only.'"
During the months after reopening, there will be absolutely no drive-up access to the Observatory permitted. Everyone must have a timed-entry reservation to be admitted to the Observatory.
Reservations guarantee entry to Griffith Observatory and seats on a shuttle to and from the Observatory. Two points of departure with adequate parking have been established: the parking lot at the Hollywood & Highland entertainment complex in Hollywood and the current Griffith Observatory Satellite, adjacent to the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, in Griffith Park. At Hollywood & Highland, visitors will find their shuttle bus at Orange Court, the tour bus departure on Orange Dr. near Hollywood Blvd.
Reservations may be made through one of the following convenient options:
1) via the Observatory Web site at www.GriffithObservatory.org;
2) by calling the toll-free call center at 1-888-695-0888 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT.
As a third option, reservations also may be made in-person at a reservation center at the Griffith Observatory Satellite (4800 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027) which will be opening no later than October 30, 2006.
The charges for timed-entry and shuttle reservations are:
General reservations: $8.00 each
Children 5-12 years: $4.00 each
Children 4 years and under: Free
Seniors 60 years and over: $4.00 each
Timed-entry reservations only:
Hikers and cyclists: Free 48 hours in advance
Griffith Observatory's hours of operation are from noon to 10 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. The Observatory is closed Mondays.
"It's easy to distinguish Griffith Observatory from other facilities dedicated to public astronomy because, first of all, it occupies the best piece of public observatory real estate in the world," concludes Dr. Krupp. "It's not at any kind of ordinary location, rather it's at an extraordinary location. Of course, it also requires a pilgrimage. People have to make an effort to get there. While the process for this pilgrimage may be a little more complex with the reopening, we are certain it will be worth it."
Opened in 1935, Griffith Observatory is one of the best-known and most visited public observatories in the world. Operated by the City of Los Angeles's Department of Recreation and Parks, the Observatory welcomed nearly 70 million visitors into the building prior to closing for renovation in January 2002. Construction on the renovation and expansion project began in October 2002. Pfeiffer Partners, Inc., in association with Levin & Associates Architects, are the architects for the project, working together with the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, and Friends Of The Observatory. Amoroso is the renovation construction contractor. Exhibits were designed by C&G Partners LLC and fabricated and installed by Maltbie, Inc. Griffith Observatory is located in the southern part of Griffith Park, just below the summit of Mt. Hollywood. For more information regarding Griffith Observatory, visit the Observatory's website at www.GriffithObservatory.org.
FRIENDS OF THE OBSERVATORY (Non-Profit Support Organization)
Friends Of The Observatory (FOTO) is a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) membership organization established in 1978 to support and promote Griffith Observatory. FOTO members value the Observatory for its contributions to education, science, and public astronomy. As a community support group, FOTO offers numerous benefits to members and assists in the development of the Observatory. One of FOTO's primary goals is to support the renovation and expansion of the Observatory, so that it continues to inform and inspire its nearly two million annual visitors and remains one of the most internationally recognizable icons of Los Angeles.
This story was originally titled "GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY REOPENS NOVEMBER 3, 2006 --BY RESERVATION ONLY-- AFTER FOUR-YEAR RENOVATION AND EXPANSION PROJECT".
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