Breaking News: Downtown LA’s New Landmark Tower, Wilshire Grand, to Become West Coast’s Tallest

A rendering of the Wilshire Grand Tower that will rise at 7th and Figueroa in Downtown LA's Financial District with a height of 1,100 feet tall to the spire (Photo: AC Martin)

A rendering of the Wilshire Grand Tower that will rise at 7th and Figueroa in Downtown LA’s Financial District with a height of 1,100 feet tall to the spire (Photo: AC Martin)

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.

The Wilshire Grand Tower will be the first modern high-rise in Downtown LA without a "formal helipad" due to advanced concrete-core elevator shafts that exceed fire codes (Photo: AC Martin)

The Wilshire Grand Tower will be the first modern high-rise in Downtown LA without a “formal helipad” due to advanced concrete-core elevator shafts that exceed fire codes (Photo: AC Martin)

The rooftop pool and lounge area for hotel guests will have amazing views of the Los Angeles basin (Photo: AC Martin)

The rooftop pool and lounge area for hotel guests will have amazing views of the Los Angeles basin (Photo: AC Martin)

The grand "sky lobby" on the 70th floor will offer sweeping views of Los Angeles (Photo: AC Martin)

The grand “sky lobby” on the 70th floor will offer sweeping views of Los Angeles (Photo: AC Martin)

The lobby and shopping area on the ground floor will become a center of luxury dining and retail shops (Photo: AC Martin)

The lobby and shopping area on the ground floor will become a center of luxury dining and retail shops (Photo: AC Martin)

The ground level will have a pedestrian-friendly plaza that will be activated by the shops and 7th/Metro subway station across the street (Photo: AC Martin)

The ground level will have a pedestrian-friendly plaza that will be activated by the shops and 7th/Metro subway station across the street (Photo: AC Martin)

Another view of the ground level entrance area of the Wilshire Grand Tower (Photo: AC Martin)

Another view of the ground level entrance area of the Wilshire Grand Tower (Photo: AC Martin)

The Wilshire Grand Tower will be a dramatic addition to the growing Downtown LA skyline (Photo: AC Martin)

The Wilshire Grand Tower will be a dramatic addition to the growing Downtown LA skyline (Photo: AC Martin)

The Wilshire Grand Tower at night (Photo: AC Martin)

The Wilshire Grand Tower at night (Photo: AC Martin)

Another view of the towering Wilshire Grand Tower (Photo: AC Martin)

Another view of the towering Wilshire Grand Tower (Photo: AC Martin)

62 Responses to Breaking News: Downtown LA’s New Landmark Tower, Wilshire Grand, to Become West Coast’s Tallest

  1. Fantastic! I couldn’t be happier with the design. And nice job breaking the story Brigham! Best coverage in DTLA, as always.

  2. I can’t wait for this! I love the design. This will be a game changer in DTLA for sure.

  3. Uhmazing! Will be awesome to see this across the street from my office’s window daily.

  4. Well done Brigham. As someone who walks by this building daily, I do not believe it is realistic that the demo will be done by Fall.

  5. Wait! When did they scrap the entire façade of LED strips? I’m assuming it’s been downsized into just the spire? I’m suddenly a lot less excited about this building.

  6. downtown resident

    WOW that building looks beautiful. DTLA: please keep building more structures similar to this one!

  7. “The tower will be capped by an iconic sail-shaped architectural feature that will be illuminated with LED lighting at night”

  8. The shape of this building reminds me of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. It’s very pretty!

  9. Gorgeous! What an amazing looking building.

  10. I’m disappointed about the height and floor count. They’re entitled to go up to 1250 ft, but go only to 1100 ft? Also 73 floors, really? The should have taken it up at least to the 90th floor. The building looks cool but the execution as usual in this city is not quite as good as it could be.

    • PH- Its not just about building as high as possible (although I would like to see that as much as you). Its about making the project pencil out. 73 floors is probably the height that maximized the investors’ return.

      • They could have added a couple extra floors (which I don’t think would shake their returns too much), increased the crown and spire height so squeeze another 100-150 ft out. They went this far but stop short.

        • I’m sure they have done their calculations. It’s not just about height. I work 1 block away from this building on 8th and Fig and in Commercial Real Estate.

  11. This building will definitely improve our skyline. It looks so inviting yet majestic.

  12. Is there a video?

  13. That is beautiful. With this, we may finally get the retail we’ve been clambering for.

  14. Good job Brigham, your blog is awesome. Downtown needs this tower, the spire, height, and ground floor is a nice refreshing change.

    I hope the tower includes an observation deck!

  15. wow this is a GORGEOUS building!! FINALLY downtown LA gets a modern, beautifully designed skyscraper that this city has desperately needed for so long. It looks beautiful and is just as nice as any high rise in a modern city like NY, hong kong or singapore. Looks like downtown LA is finally starting to establish itself as a modern world class city!

  16. That is one sexy looking building! sorely needed to add some pizazz to the Downtown LA skyline, which for too long was mostly boring square boxes. Kudos on the story Brig.

  17. If US Bank building (Library Tower) places a flag pole on the roof, Wilshire Grand will be the second tallest building…

  18. This might fall under the “Too soon to ask” category, but is there any word if there will be direct subway access from this development? Walking across the street to catch the redline is not going to work for me :)

  19. This is awesome. I hope the retail space has some sunlight and doesn’t feel like an enclosed mall.

  20. A dedicated exit from the subway station to the building lobby or lower level would be a good selling point.

  21. Now if they could just clean up all the filth and worthless people that crowd the DTLA area… That would be great…

    • Now if they could just clean up all the douchebags and elitist jerks that have recently moved to the DTLA area… That would be great…

  22. Good looking bldg but the most exciting part is the retail at the base. Could be a major boost to 7th St/Fig as a retail corridor.

    • Good point. In my travels in Asia, many “podiums” (the base of a high-rise) contained multiple floors of retail, essentially a shopping mall. These are common in residential hi-rises out in Asia. Let’s hope the the retail base alone in this project magnifies the street life around it…

  23. With this new building right across from the 7th/Metro subway station (HSBC building), they should put some sort of pedestrian bridge or skyway that connects this building with the subway portal. It would alleviate all the crosswalk traffic and waiting for the signals.

    Just an idea…

    • No thanks to pedestrian skyways/skybridges! They tend kill street life more than do in helping alleviate traffic.

      • I’m talk about a skyway just to cross the busy street (at least as an option where people can still walk across), not a walkway parallel to one that diverts traffic away from businesses.

  24. @John G. \i think any connection with this building would best be underground. you could activate an underground passage with retail, much like you see in japan. of course, this isnt going to happen, but just thinking outloud. if any station in los angeles could pull off some underground retail/mall, it would be 7th/metro.

    • Interesting, didn’t think too much of an underground passage, but sounds good. The main point is to provide more connectivity between the subway and this building.

    • Yes, I tend to agree with putting the connection under ground. Other cities do it all the time.

  25. Gorgeous tower! Finally a tower worthy of a world class city. I really like the rooftop pool.

  26. Skybridge, underground walkway to the subway? Hell no! Just walk across the street. This is one beautiful skyscraper.

  27. Hey, if the builders of this magnificent building are using any bricks as decoration Please check at the Staples Arena. The Lakers have been throwing plenty of them and there should be a plentiful supply.

  28. Underground passage? Are you kidding me. This is an urban environment and the weather is usually beautiful–get outside & walk across the street! Also, no awful Vegas skyways please.

    • Perhaps now people can just walk. But from my travel experiencs as the area grows and foot traffic increases, those walkways (whether above or underground) will have a huge impact. Remember, we are talking about a subway portal with tons of people 24/7 (well, almost), not a bus stop or taxi drop-off…

  29. If a premier office building and hotel is located that close to a main subway station, it’s just barely conceivable that visitors to town will take the subway to it. Nobody wants to hustle luggage through a crosswalk across Figueroa. A direct entrance to the building from the subway will accommodate that. As others have noted, that’s commonplace in Asia and not even that uncommon in the US – both Bloomingdales in NY and Filenes in Boston have direct access from their adjoining subway stops.

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  31. I don’t think it’s tall enough to have a perfect view of the LA Basin. Without the spire, this building will be much shorter than the US Bank Tower. A few of the surrounding buildings will perhaps block the view below and around. However, this is a very nice building and will greatly affect the look of the skyline. Can’t wait!

  32. Much shorter than the US Bank Tower?!? How do u figure that?!? The spire isn’t that long at all, without it the Wilshire Grand Tower is still a little taller.
    Wilshire Grand Tower 1,100 feet high
    US Bank Tower 1,018 feet high
    Do u actually think the spire is over 90 feet long?!? I don’t think so…..

  33. I agree. Hopefully much smaller San Francisco will soon build a taller building and put L.A. to shame. I live in Salinas, in between, so I can’t wait to see the rivalry reignited.

  34. Someone asks if the spire is over 90 feet long. In fact, if you take the length of the spire (just estimate its size by placing a simple ruler over the corresponding section of the photo) and superimpose it upon the number of floors in the building, it will equal about 11 stories. Assuming each floor is no less than 10 feet (and is probably more than that), and then multiplying that by 11, the spire ends up a good deal taller than 100 feet.

  35. this is one awsome looking skyscraper L.A. with the first skyscraper with a spire,and just this first one that there getting already looks better than alot of other ones around diffrent cities.. can’t imagine the way it’s gonna look in a couple of years later. it’s gonna be the most dominate skyline….

  36. Gorgeous design

  37. I cant wait for LAs 3rd tallest building to be built! (OK, if you add the scaffolding and toothpick its the 1st)

    That being said, if they stuck a flagpole on top of the Library Tower, it could become the tallest again. And then there would be a pissing match between the two buildings, trying to constantly outdo each other by adding extra things to their toothpick and flagpole, to which we would all be amazed at.

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  39. Are you positive that the spire at the top will count towards the height? If not, it will be the third tallest building in California, with the Transbay Tower in San Francisco being the tallest.

  40. You gotta be kidding me!

  41. The spire concept is really weak. I am not impressed with Wilshire Grand’s
    true height. Why not build it taller? The spire concept is so lame.

  42. the us bank tower is a better building because it looks original to LA.

  43. The Wilshire Grand and the Salesforce Building will be great additions to both cities.

    Transmission Towers
    Not to change the subject, San Francisco also has the 975 foot tall Sutro Transmission Tower. Less impressive but worth noting, there is also a 972 foot tall KCBS Transmission Tower just outside Los Angeles atop Mount Wilson.

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