downtown los angeles, financial district
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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)

72 Comments

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

  2. Lawrence says

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

  3. Becky says

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

  4. melissa says

    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. Matthew says

    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 says

    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. David says

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

  9. 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.

        • Jack says

          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.

  10. Simon Hartigan says

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

  11. brudy says

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

  12. Art Castro says

    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!

  13. Cristian Reyes says

    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!

  14. 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.

  15. Simon Ha says

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

  16. LazyPants252 says

    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 :)

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

  18. Belial says

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

  19. Chauncy says

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

    • Aurora says

      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…

  20. 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.

    • John G. says

      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…

  21. John G. says

    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…

    • Andrew W. says

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

      • John G. says

        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.

  22. Oscar says

    @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.

    • John G. says

      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.

  23. Andrew W. says

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

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

  25. Manny says

    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.

  26. 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.

    • John G. says

      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…

  27. Belial says

    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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  29. 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!

    • It certainly is. There are many buildings in downtown with views of the ocean that are only 20 stories or so. (EVO in South Park for example). The real downtown skyscrapers have insane views in all directions.

      • I agree. I live in an 8 story building in Koreatown that happens to be at the top of a small hill, and we can see the entire basin from the roof, and even the ocean and Catalina Island on a clear day.

  30. oscar says

    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…..

  31. joe suarez says

    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.

    • oscat says

      Keep dreamin! San Francisco will never put L.A to shame! L.A will always be superior to frisco, deal with it!!

      • I think Joe is saying a rivalry would be beneficial to the skylines in both cities. I agree. Nothing like a little competition :)

    • Maccioni says

      I don’t think San Francisco can build anything taller than 1,070 that’s what the transbay tower is going to be.

  32. Cassie says

    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.

  33. blademir gomez says

    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….

  34. Horthos says

    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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  36. 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.

  37. Randall says

    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.

  38. David says

    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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  40. I agree with the comment that the US Bank tower is a much more interesting and unique design. This building would be more at home somewhere in China. The stated height is also very misleading, with the building mass (occupied floors) topping out at about 820 feet. Lattice-like frame reaches 920 and the pole, er spire, sticks up another 90 feet or so.

  41. DRS says

    You L.A. homers are wrong, and can dream on in you little corner of self-denial. L.A. doesn’t beat S.F. or any other US city in many things. If you haven’t been keeping track, the Mayor of San Francisco is already aware of the Wilshire Grand situation and there is now a proposal to raise the height of SF’s Salesforce Tower past Grand Wilshire Tower by a few feet. It is high probability that this will happen, and Salesforece will be the tallest structure in the US west of the Mississippi after 2017. SF also has more skyscrapers downtown than its LA counterpart. Buildings in LA’s skyline is more sparse and spread apart. You can actually count them with the fingers of your hands. LA’s proposal to renovate & expand the Union Station area to 3.2 million square feet still won’t come close to the entire Transbay Transit district renovation, which will total some 6 million square feet when completed. There are also many other things SF beats LA at. For starters, SF has a bigger and better Chinatown. It’s actually the largest in North America. LA’s Chinatown, on the other hand, looks like a huge strip mall that was torn apart and separated by streets that happen to run right through it. As a matter of fact, there are a total of 6 Chinatowns within the dinky 42 square miles of San Francisco city limits. More than in the entire 4,800+ sq. mi. LA metropolitan area. We also have 2 of the largest bridges in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate. They both easily dwarf that toy of an erector set you call the Vincent Thomas Bridge. SF’s population density also beats LA by a count of 18,187 per square feet to 8,282 for LA. SF’s downtown is lively and visited by thousands from all over the world. In contrast, LA’s downtown is dead. SF also has a larger & more extensive streetcar & street-based light rail service. It’s manually operated cable car system is the only one left in the world. There are more restaurants per capita in SF than LA or any other US city. There are also more automobiles per capita in SF than in Los Angeles(surprise!). It also has the nation’s largest LGBT population. Its streets, such as Junipero Serra Blvd and the Embarcadero are wider than anything you’ll find in LA. The Morrison Planerterium in San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences is not only bigger than Samuel Oschin Planeterium in Griffith Park, it’s also the LARGEST DIGITAL PLANETERIUM IN THE WORLD. Of course, that’s not to say that LA isn’t better at other things. There’s the gazillion miles of ugly concrete freeways, the smog, and more homicides. Oh, did I forget to mention the problem with rats, and that’s not including the ones which happen to walk upright on two legs. LA will never beat San Francisco. NEVER. Deal with it.

    • You have nothing better to do but to argue over who’s city is better! I love my home of Los Angeles and I happen to like San Fran as well. Both have good and bad points but I will not argue like a baby on which is better. That is just plain stupid. You need to be thankful that you have a nice city to live in and that you are not out on the streets with no roof over your head. You need to count your blessings! Bragging over the better city is going to do what for you? Pump your little head up? For what? There are better things in life to care about. Instead of bashing cities, I will invite you to come over to SKID ROW or other places in both cities where tons of homeless people live and bless them with food, money, and shelter. But there is a 99.9 opps I mean 100% chance you won’t do that. Go bless someone today, tomorrow and forever and live your life blessing others. Tomorrow is never promised for no one and if you leave this earth, San Fran will still be here. LA and San Fran are two world class cities!

  42. David says

    Just for the fact, the last user wasn’t around to criticize the numerous pro-LA sentiments. Maybe it’s me, but I kinda sense a bit of bias here. If you’re so ripped as to respond profusely, you’re just as indulgent as the previous poster. You can’t really accuse others of committing such acts as ignoring the homeless, unless you know firsthand through experience which would no doubt make you a hypocrite. Speak for yourself!

  43. Greg_Gatan says

    Born and bred in LA here. I would like to comment that on a visit to SF 6 months ago, I saw something that caught my attention. The landscape was littered all over the place with giant cranes and new skyscrapers under construction that weren’t there 2 years ago. The scene is just ridiculous crazy, similar to what’s going on in Miami. Do a GoogleMaps streetview of Beale Street between Mission and Folsom, look up and pan 360 and you’ll see what I mean. By comparison, the only thing happening in DTLA is Wilshire Grand. Has the proliferation of highrises in DTLA already plateaued? I think it’s conceivable that SF will eventually win the skyline race out of necessity. It can no longer grow outward, only up.

    • Lawrence says

      Greg – you might want to read more of this blog and check out the other highrises under construction or in the pipeline for downtown L.A. Somewhere around 20+ buildings that are 20 floors or higher are under construction or will be shortly. The Metropolis, Fig Central and 1200 S. Fig projects are just a few examples that will literally re-shape the Downtown skyline.

  44. Greg_Gatan says

    We’ve been through this before. So many proposals planned downtown that never got going or pushed back. All I know is that there are cranes moving around all over SF. Regardless of what they’re building, at least they’re doing something. If LA city officials came through with what they promised throughout the years, the same number of buildings which you’ve mentioned would already be up and running in DTLA years ago.

  45. Dave says

    Greg, you should know that 20 projects ongoing or about to get under way in as large an area as downtown LA won’t seem like much. It actually isn’t when compared to the frenetic building pace of other cities like San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami. Unlike LA, downtown is the center of those communities. What’s been transpiring in downtown LA the past 10 or 15 years is a noble effort for change. However, let’s be realistic. You don’t abandon downtown for 50 years, put up a few mid-sized skyscrapers, and expect it to be as great as it was before the end of WWII. IMHO, downtown LA will never be in the same ranks of its counterparts in San Fran or Miami, unless it does more than just erect a few glass and concrete structures. For starters, city hall needs to clean up Broadway and the Pershing Square areas, instead of announcing that they will and do nothing about it. Construction of empty office space, while nearby homeless urine-fests are taking place on weekday afternoons in what was once hailed as the greatest open urban public space in the west coast is not what I would call progress. It’s just sweeping the problem under a thicker rug with a larger broom. Mayor Garcetti needs to realize this before LA can even fantasize about competing with San Fran and Miami downtowns.

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