U.S. Bank Tower’s New Plan to Make You Fudge Your Huggies

Rendering of the Skyslide (Courtesy of Gensler)

Rendering of the Skyslide (Courtesy of Gensler)

It’s hard to think of a skyscraper with a more robust history of unfriendliness. For years, the U.S. Bank Tower has cultivated a culture of open hostility toward anyone who dared admire its striking presence.

The Internet is full of hundreds of reports from disgruntled tourists who were admonished, chased away, and even threatened by its security staff for gazing too long at the building. The “guards” have no problem violating the law to make their point, leaving many a visitor with a bad taste in their mouth and a poor image of Los Angeles.

Some people who have had the gall to pull out a camera have been shouted at, and even followed blocks away by the building’s rent-a-cops. This, even though they committed no infraction. Even in Los Angeles, photography is not a crime, though the building’s apparent policy is to treat everyone, sometimes even its own tenants, like terrorists.

So it is going to be a significant project for the soon-t0-be-second-tallest building in California to remake its image into one of a tourist-friendly destination. Part of that effort is the creation of a public observation deck on the 69th floor.

We’ve previously reported on this $50 million observatory and bar coming to the top of the U.S. Bank Tower, but now there is a twist. One of the sky high attractions is going to be an outdoor slide.

It’s a transparent tube called a Skyslide that visitors will be able to ride down on the outside of the building from the 70th floor. The drop isn’t huge, and the run is only about 45 feet long, but the concept and renderings are either thrilling or terrifying, depending on who you are.


Rendering of the Skyslide (Courtesy of Gensler)

Rendering of the Skyslide (Courtesy of Gensler)

Lucy Rumantir, of building operator OUE Limited, told the Associated Press, “There will be nothing like it in the U.S.”

Well, that’s not quite true.  In Chicago there are already two things like it.

The Ledge, a series of glass boxes that hang off the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower allow people to step out into nothingness and peer downward.  And The Tilt across town at the John Hancock Center has people hang on to handles while they’re shoved head-first at a precarious angle over the edge of the 94th floor, with only glass separating them and the wild blue yonder.

It should also be noted that towers from Toronto to Tokyo allow people to stand on glass panels and look straight down from their observation decks.

Public observatories are common in other parts of the world where building owners want to show off their skyscrapers and make a little cash on the side. Here in America, they’re becoming a competitive industry with companies from around the world buying up floors in prominent skyscrapers and operating public spaces at a profit.



Location: 633 West Fifth Street, Downtown Los Angeles


Author: Wayne

Wayne is the editor of the Los Angeles Architecture Blog. He has degrees in journalism and communication, and spent 20 years as a professional broadcaster as a reporter, anchor, producer, and news director.

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