▶ Los Angeles Has a New Skyscraper King


It’s not very often that you have to re-write the list of Los Angeles’ tallest skyscrapers.  But today is one of those days.

The Wilshire Grand Plaza is now officially the tallest building in Los Angeles, California, and the western United States.  Earlier today it topped out at 1.099 feet, meaning that when it is completed, it will be the ninth-tallest building in the nation, behind four skyscrapers in Chicago and four in New York.

While the community of Los Angeles skyscraper fans welcomes a new tall tower to the city’s downtown skyline, there is disappointment that in a city as large, complex, and global as L.A. that its “tallest” remains significantly under 100 stories, and that the Wilshire Grand’s height penultimate height comes from an architectural spire.  One World Trade Center pulled the same trick in New York.

That little cheat was evident today when the ceremonial beam, signed by dignitaries, bankers, politicians, architects, developers, construction workers, and looky-loos was hoisted to the top of the building.  And by “top” we mean 892 feet.  There’s another 40 feet of glass coming above that, referred to as an illuminated “sail,” then the 160-foot-tall needle.

Without that needle, the Wilshire Grand Plaza would rank 25th in the nation, behind buildings in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Seattle, and Atlanta.  Another piece of Hollywood make-believe to be exported to the world.  And much like California politics, if you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.

Rendering of the Wilshire Grand's place in the Los Angeles skyline

Rendering of the Wilshire Grand’s place in the Los Angeles skyline

Still, David C. Martin’s 73-story edifice is considered an engineering marvel by many in the field.  Not only does it have to deal with the same structural and environmental challenges as its rivals back east, it also has to cope with earthquakes large and small.

For those of you unfamiliar with the project, here’s the firehose:

  • Address: 900 Wilshire Boulevard
  • Developer: Hanjin Group (though often promoted as Korean Air, a Hanjin subsidiary)
  • Architecture firm: AC Martin
  • Anticipated completion: 2017
  • Cost: $1.1 billion
  • Maximum height: 1,099 feet
  • Height to top of glass “sail:” 934 feet
  • Height to sky pool: 827 feet
  • Floor space: 2,100,000 square feet
  • Hotel rooms: 900
  • Office space: 400,000 square feet
  • Elevators: 38
  • Escalators: 14
  • LEED Silver goal
  • Touted as the first skyscraper in Los Angeles designed to use natural light
  • The spire is made of stainless steel

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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