Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just repeating what the guard at work said.
The FEMALE guard.
As I rolled to the campus gate on Walnut Street after biking up the beach from Redondo, something seemed different. I mentioned it to the guard and she pointed up to the top of Boeing Building S12, saying “Them hooters be gone! They took ‘em down Saturday.”
WTF! “Them hooters” were a pair of white, inflatable fabric domes rising from pedestals atop Boeing Building S12. I’ve been working at this campus for almost 30 years and those domes have been a landmark for all of that time. But the story goes back even farther.
When I first started working here as a CAD contractor, it was Hughes Aircraft Company, a private entity owned by Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Virtually all of the buildings along this stretch of Imperial Highway, and along most of the side streets, were Hughes buildings. I was working in the antenna design lab and one day encountered an engineer whom I knew from the University of Michigan back in 77/78. I worked as a Resident Advisor in West Quad and he had been one of the residents on my floor.
He got recruited out of Michigan by Hughes Aircraft, a company he didn’t even know anything about, and had been working there for at least 5 years when I ran into him. He had access to a lot of neat stuff and took me for a walking tour of the campus, including up to the top of S12 and into one of the inflated fabric domes. The domes were used for testing satellite antenna hardware. There was a signal source in another building down the road pointing at the domes. The antenna units would be mounted upright inside of the domes, which kept the weather out, but the fabric walls were invisible to the electromagnetic signals.
The structure was known affectionately as the “Dolly Parton” building.
Apparently the domes have not been used in years. I surmise that the testing methods have been improved and miniaturized to the extent that the domes became obsolete. Or maybe it’s all been outsourced. Sigh. It all changes, all the time. Hughes is no more, and all of these buildings now are Raytheon, Boeing or smaller companies.
I’ll keep commuting by bike sporadically, but we’ll all miss Dolly. Thankfully, my commute along the beach remains beautiful.