Friday, April 08, 2005
Bob Hope Airport Shuffles
Bob Hope Airport
Bob Hope Airport (nee Burbank) has a lot going for it, especially if your LA destination is the one of the valleys (San Fernando, San Gabriel), Hollywood or even downtown LA. It is intimate; everything is very close together and has great potential for charm (a quality hardly ever associated with airports).
The Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena bureaucrats lack even the faintest glimmer of imagination, poetry and history. The airport has a 60 year history and strong ties to Lockheed and aviation but all you are aware of when you use the terminal is that it is old, old fashioned (no jetways, just roll up stairs to the planes) and awkward in its layout.
The great old building is still there, crowded by new, ugly additions. You really don't see it on arrival because of the side access to the site. With some cleanup and a fresh paint job, the exterior could pass muster however. It is the interior which really disappoints. Just like airports everywhere, you have no sense of where you are. When you realize that Bob Hope has a tradition of aerospace innovation and is now in the center of media production, it is a great loss that nothing of that is displayed or evoked in the terminal. Even the boarding outdoors and using roll-up stairs ought to be nostalgic and exciting.
What's missing is not so much spending more money as applying some imagination. How much more delightful would be the inspired ambiance of Pasadena (or even the less inspired ones for Glendale and Burbank) if the airport gateway engaged the visitor with its history upon arrival?