Griffith Observatory was originally conceived by some of the finest scientific minds of the 1930s and built with the finest materials of the day. The City of Los Angeles and Friends Of The Observatory were committed to that spirit of excellence in every aspect of the renovation and expansion project. The ambitious $93-million project renewed the Observatory’s world-class standing and restored and enhanced the Observatory’s ability to pursue its public astronomy mission, all driven by a commitment to excellence and enabled by a successful public-private partnership.
The total cost of the renovation and expansion project was $93 million. Roughly 70 percent of this total ($66.5 million) went toward construction-related costs, which include architectural design and drawings. The balance was for exhibit development ($14.8 million), planetarium equipment and show production ($8.5 million), and other expenses (3.2 million). Both public ($67.4 million) and private ($25.6) sources provided funds for the project. Friends Of The Observatory (FOTO) directly raised nearly a third (over $30 million) of the required funds and also participated actively in securing much of the other funding for the project.
The renovation and expansion of Griffith Observatory was 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. Major participants (and primary roles) in the renovation and expansion project include:
- Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks (project management, building operation).
- Los Angeles Department of Public Works (construction management), through its Bureau of Engineering.
- Pfeiffer Partners, Inc. (principal architect), Levin & Associates Architects (associate architect), and S. J. Amoroso Construction (building construction general contractor) were the major contractors for the building and construction project.
- Friends Of The Observatory (FOTO) (fundraising, specialized equipment acquisition, exhibit program management and acquisition).
- C&G Partners LLC (exhibit designers), Maltbie, Inc. (exhibit general contractor), Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH (star projector), Evans & Sutherland Computer Corporation (digital projectors), and Spitz, Inc. (Samuel Oschin Planetarium dome) were the major exhibit and equipment contractors.
- Public leadership was provided by Los Angeles Mayors James Hahn and Antonio Villaraigosa, Congressman Adam Schiff, Assemblymember Dario Frommer, Los Angeles Chief Legislative Analyst Ron Deaton, and by Los Angeles Councilmember Tom LaBonge, who was the tireless advocate for the Observatory and the project for decades.