On January 6th, at 10 p.m, the venerable Griffith
Observatory and planetarium in Los Angeles, California, will close
its doors to the public for more than three years. When it reopens on
May 14, 2005 — the observatory's 70th birthday — it will be
bigger and better than ever — a mecca of astronomical outreach
and education for decades to come.
The shutdown will allow for $66 million worth of updating
and expansion. The project will include the renovation of the existing
structure, a complete redevelopment of the planetarium theater (including
a new state-of-the-art Zeiss star projector), and the addition of 35,000
square feet of new space.
Griffith Observatory, constructed in the 1930s, is a historical
Los Angeles landmark with its art deco design. The building has been
featured in Hollywood films ranging from Rebel Without A Cause,
to The Rocketeer and Bowfinger. Preserving its look
is an essential part of the plan says observatory director and Sky
& Telescope contributing editor E. C. Krupp. Therefore the expansion
will take place entirely underground — beneath the front lawn.
During construction, Griffith Observatory will continue
its community outreach program. Three temporary trailer offices will
house employees near the Los Angeles Zoo, a location Krupp affectionately
calls the "Observatory-in-Exile Site." Telescopes will be available
to the public day and night at this remote location.