Thanks for visiting!

This project is now in update mode. Check back regularly to see how things are progressing.

Empower UCLA Research to Preserve Historic Watts Towers

Raised toward our $15,000 Goal
44 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on March 27, at 12:59 AM PDT
Project Owners

Empower UCLA Research to Preserve Historic Watts Towers

Our Project

Our team of engineers from the UCLA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering recently partnered with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to aid in the preservation of the Watts Towers—a National Historic Landmark.

Constructed by a single artist, Simon Rodia, between 1921 and 1955, the Watts Towers have become an internationally known and respected monument. Yet time, weather and seismic activity have taken a toll on its structural health.

We have been working together on gaining insight into how the environment affects the structural behavior and how these effects correlate with the observed damage. We want to shed light on the root cause of cracks and other forms of deterioration that keep re-appearing at several locations throughout the site. 

Our goal is to create a comprehensive preservation plan that can aid in future repair and maintenance efforts.

Why is this important?

Not only will the knowledge gained in this study help to preserve one of the most iconic works of art in Southern California, it may also aid in the preservation of many other outdoor works of art similar to the Towers – such as the Magic Gardens in Philadelphia and the Nek Chand Rock Garden in India.

What your Gifts will do


The small grant we received by the National Science Foundation to cover the costs of data collection has run out. With the drastic cuts to already highly competitive federal research grants, it is becoming increasingly difficult to finance our research.

In order to complete our work, it is necessary to provide a stipend to a graduate student researcher who will continue processing and analyzing the critical recorded data at the Watts site.

Your gifts will directly support this research and continue our important study to assist LACMA in preserving this national landmark.


Your generosity will help us develop a detailed structural computer simulation model. This model will enable us to better understand the currently observed trends—namely, structural deformations in response to temperature variations—and will also be used as a tool to predict the response and safety of the tower under other (extreme) loads such earthquakes and high winds.

Moreover, sensors are continuously recording at the site, resulting in a large of amount data (over 300Gb to date) that must be organized and archived to facilitate future studies in order to preserve Watts Towers.


Gathering and processing this critical data is very expensive. One of our goals is to subsidize the cost of additional monitoring equipment through our Spark campaign, which will significantly improve our understanding of the Towers’ behavior.

These include a set of embedded thermometers to study the distribution of temperature around the tower throughout the day, and a high-speed camera and lenses (to be rented or purchased) to observe the dynamic behavior of the Towers under Santa Ana winds.

Your help will outfit us with the needed equipment and empower us to continue our work.

Perks for your Contributions

When you join our team we want to say thank you with these wonderful perks! Check them out on our side bar to the right.


Your partnership means so much to us and is critical to our project’s success. Thank you for your gifts to our project. Any help you can give directly increases our ability to successfully provide the needed research to preserve this important cultural landmark.

If you could please spread the word to family and friends through email, Facebook or Twitter we would greatly appreciate your help.

Thank you for your support! Go Bruins!

Our way
of Thanking You



Downloadable photo of the project team + name listed as contributor on website

10 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: April 2014


Engineer in Training (EIT)

Signed post card/thank you card + Downloadable photo of the project team + name listed as contributor on website

4 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: April 2014


Watts Towers Conservator

Limited Edition T-Shirt + Signed post card/thank you card + Downloadable photo of the project team + name listed as contributor on website

13 of 50 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: April 2014


Professional Engineer (P.E.)

Name explicitly listed in the acknowledgement section of final report (also, a copy of the paper/report signed by the principal investigators with a personal thank you note) + all previous perks

2 of 25 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: April 2014


Watts Structural Engineer

Personal guided tour w/ the UCLA team and LACMA scientists + all previous perks

0 of 5 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: April 2014
Our Crowdfunding Groups