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Iconic LAX Theme Building ready for its close-up

Los Angeles city officials held a ribbon cutting reception on Friday, July 2, 2010 for the reopening of the LAX theme building's observation deck to the public.
Los Angeles city officials held a ribbon cutting reception on Friday, July 2, 2010 for the reopening of the LAX theme building's observation deck to the public.
Brian Watt/KPCC

It took three years and $12.3 million, but the iconic LAX Theme Building is open for business.

The 49-year-old building -- which resembles a flying saucer -- was slated for upgrades after a 1,000-pound piece of stucco fell off one of the upper arches in 2007.

Today, the mayor and several members of the City Council held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the completion of the project.

The announcement was made at the building's observation deck, which had been shuttered for nearly nine years because of security concerns.

The observation deck was closed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. It will welcome visitors again July 10, every Saturday and Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

During construction, a 600-ton steel structure was installed in the building's top core to help absorb violent motion caused by earthquakes. Also, the building's old stucco was replaced with new stucco that offers better protection against the elements, according to Los Angeles World Airports, which runs LAX.

The LAX Theme Building houses the glass-encased Encounter Restaurant, which has a 360-degree view of the airport and the surrounding area. It, and the ground-level City Deli public cafeteria, remained open throughout the renovation.

Funding for the project came from the LAX Airport Revenue Fund.