Pasadena City Hall

City Hall, located at 100 North Garfield Avenue, was designed by Arthur Brown and John Bakewell, who took their cues from the early Renaissance style of 16th-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio. All building work was finished by December 1927.

Filmmakers have used the City Hall for countless years. In “A Walk in the Clouds,” a 1995 film, the courtyard stood in for a Napa Valley plaza. “Rumor Has It,” directed by Rob Reiner and released in 2005, also features the building. Besides serving as an embassy in the “Mission: Impossible” TV series, the building was a villa in Charlie Chaplin’s Oscar-nominated 1940 comedy, “The Great Dictator.”

The City Hall building is a rectangle structure with a large court in the center. Extending 351 feet to the north and south, and 242 feet to the east and west, it has a rectangular exterior. A single-story arcade occupies the east side. Besides the west entrance, the remaining three sides are also three storeys tall and have minor towers at each corner as well as the main dome. Together, the 235 rooms and corridors take up an area of 170,000 square feet.

This huge sphere has a perpendicular six-story ascent. There are eight smaller round arches and four larger ones puncturing the 41-foot-tall fifth floor. The second, slightly recessed storey is also 30 feet high and punctuated by arches. The dome, which measures 54 feet in diameter and 26 feet in height, stands above it. The lantern, a cupola supported by columns at a height of 41 feet, sits above the dome and is topped with an urn and a ball. At its peak, it is 206 feet above sea level.

Pasadena City Hall, from afar, has always appeared like it could outlast anyone. By the late 20th century, however, the edifice had begun to show its age. The building, which dates back to the 1920s and does not comply with today’s standards, may potentially collapse in the event of a large earthquake, resulting in serious injuries or even fatalities, according to studies.

Numerous large fissures could be seen in the poured concrete walls, and two of the stair towers had been severely compromised. Years of storms with a lack of maintenance or repair led to water damage as well. In the late 1990s, Architectural Resources Group of San Francisco, California, took charge of a project to restore the dilapidated structure. The building was abandoned in July 2004 to make way for an extensive renovation. During that time, the building’s exterior was restored, the offices were updated, and the council chambers were made accessible for those with disabilities.

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