Los Angeles, feast your eyes on the new finalized rendering of Wilshire Grand Tower from AC Martin that will rise prominently in Downtown LA’s burgeoning Financial District. So prominent, in fact, that the new “billion dollar tower” will surpass LA’s current tallest skyscraper — Library Tower (aka US Bank Tower) at 1,018 feet — as the new tallest on the West Coast (taller than any other structure west of Chicago). At 73 floors and 1,100 feet tall including the spire, which counts toward the building’s official height according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the new Wilshire Grand Tower will be a substantial addition to the LA skyline, reorienting the visual weight currently centered around the Library Tower toward this new gleaming structure to the southwest. The tower will be capped by an iconic sail-shaped architectural feature that will be illuminated with LED lighting at night (a common sight in Asia’s flagship cities like Shanghai).
The Wilshire Grand Tower is being developed through a partnership with the building owner, global shipping giant Hanjin Group, which also owns Korean Air, and one of LA’s most prolific and renowned architectural firms, AC Martin. The new tower will include a yet-to-be-determined 900-room, 4-star hotel (rumors pointed at Le Meridien last year) taking up the upper floors with a unique “sky lobby” on the 70th floor where hotel guests will arrive in less than a minute in “one of the fastest dual high-speed elevators in the world,” according to Chris Martin, CEO of AC Martin. From there, hotel guests through a top-down approach will access their rooms from taking elevators down from the lobby. In addition, the tower will include 400,000 square feet of office space below the hotel floors.
On the ground level, which is where the bulk of people will interact with the structure, there will be 45,000 square feet of commercial retail space that will become a center for fine dining and luxury retailers. Also located directly across the street from LA’s busiest subway station, 7th/Metro, a “pedestrian friendly, beautifully landscaped plaza [will] provide open space and promote community among hotel guests, business owners, downtown residents and civic leaders,” according to the Wilshire Grand website.
The biggest game changing feature of all about The Wilshire Grand Tower will be the absence of the “traditional” helipad seen on all modern high-rises in Los Angeles. (There is still a smaller inconspicuous helipad on the “sail” that will allow a helicopter to land in emergencies.) Because of a fire building code (titled the “Emergency Helicopter Landing Facility“), all modern high-rises in Los Angeles built after 1974 have flat roofs, which have given LA its uniform “stumpy skyline” without defining landmark towers seen so commonly in major cities around the world. The Wilshire Grand Tower will set a new precedent as it will have a sail-shaped roof line accentuated with a architectural spire.
How was this done? The change was allowed by the LA Fire Department due to new advances in building technology involving the structure’s elevator shafts to be reinforced within a concrete core, called “hardened elevators,” which actually elevates the fire safety standard making the building even safer in emergency situations. In this building, you actually take the elevator in an emergency, not the stairs.
Last October, city officials gathered in front of the vacated Wilshire Grand Hotel at 7th and Figueroa for a press event to kick-off the start of demolition work to dismantle the hotel down floor-by-floor — a year-long process slated for completion this fall. Anyone walking by the Wilshire Grand Hotel recently has seen green tarp covering many portions of the building as construction crews are actively taking apart the 15-story hotel.
Completion for the Wilshire Grand Tower is slated for March 2017.