The Grand Central Air Terminal, Los Angeles’ first commercial airport and Glendale landmark, was awarded the 2017 Preservation Award by the Los Angeles Conservancy. The annual award recognizes excellence in the field of historic preservation. The Grand Central Air Terminal, which has long been a fixture here in the City of Glendale, won due to its beautiful restoration and adaptive reuse as the site of Walt Disney’s Grand Central Creative Campus.
The Grand Central Air Terminal finished construction back in 1929. At the time, it was one of only 143 landing fields in the state of California. Due to its large paved runway and proximity to Los Angeles and Hollywood, the airport was regularly frequented by legendary figures in aviation such as Amelia Earhart, Howard Hughes, and Charles Lindbergh. The distinctive terminal building was designed by architect Henry L. Gogerty in the Spanish Colonial Revival style combined with touches of Art Deco. Its beautiful and artistic design elements not only brought class to air travel, but many of the terminal’s features would end up being replicated in airports to this day. The United States mobilized in 1941 for the Second World War and Grand Central Air Terminal became a part of the war effort. During the conflict, the building became the headquarters of the 318th Fighter Wing, serving as a training center for pilots and mechanics. Older terminals, which had heralded the age of aviation, could not keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancement, and so the Grand Central Air Terminal closed its doors in 1959 after a long and illustrious history.
That history would not end in 1959 however – the dilapidated building made a comeback in 2012 when the Walt Disney Company proposed an ambitious project to rehabilitate the terminal building. The terminal and grounds would then become the centerpiece of Disney’s Grand Central Creative Campus in Glendale. The project team looked at photographs, books, articles, and copious amounts of sources to accurately restore or recreate the building’s distinctive look. Most importantly, the space was refurbished and then adapted as an event space and office space where the beauty of the building could be appreciated for years to come. Disney added a visitor center where guests could learn about the history of the airport, look at photographs, and experience the impressive aviation and artistic history of one of Glendale’s most famous sites.
The Grand Central Air Terminal was named a recipient of the 2017 Preservation Award from the Los Angeles Conservancy for its impeccable restoration and for adapting the space for future generations. The Los Angeles Conservancy awards its Preservation Award each year to sites which not only preserve their historic value, but do so in a way which looks towards future usage. The site is among six other projects being recognized at the Preservation Awards Luncheon on May 3rd.
Another Glendale historic jewel, the Brand Library, was honored with a LA Conservancy Preservation Award last year.