For those of us keeping track of Downtown LA’s urban revitalization progress, the new Wilshire Grand tower under construction has been one of the proudest and most exciting projects for Angelenos who dream of DTLA becoming the region’s crown jewel once again. What will become the West Coast’s new tallest skyscraper designed by LA-based AC Martin has been rising steadily since it broke the record for the world’s largest continuous concrete pour in early 2014. Now after two years of climbing higher and higher into the sky, the tower is beginning to reach its aspired height of 1,100 feet tall, which will dramatically enhance the growing DTLA skyline.
Last week, I took an exciting hard hat tour of the Wilshire Grand on a warm sunny day. Our tour was led by Cushman & Wakefield’s lead commercial broker on the project, Steven Marcussen, who showed me the highlights of LA’s new trophy tower in the making. We started out in the project’s future 900-room Intercontinental Hotel ballroom, which will be housed in a large four-story edifice situated in the back of the tower fronting both Wilshire and Francisco St. Walking through the cavernous concrete space, I was told this would become the largest hotel ballroom in the city able to accommodate 2,200 guests.
The real exciting part of the tour was going up to the 30th floor to check out the future office space, which required us taking a construction hoist elevator (the cage-like boxes you see going up and down the exterior of the building every day). As someone who is terrified of heights, this was both thrilling and harrowing for me at the same time!
Walking through the office space, Marcussen pointed out the amazing details about Wilshire Grand that make it stand out from the rest. Instead of just being a square box on each floor like most towers, the Wilshire Grand is slanted vertically all the way up, which requires steel and window frames cut at an angle that increases the overall complexity and costs for the tower. Even more impressive, each floor will have purified air pumped in from the outside that will make breathing cleaner and healthier for its future office tenants and hotel guests.
In addition, I was stunned to learn that the walls of the reinforced concrete core are over 4 feet thick comprised mostly of hyper-dense steel rebar inside to strengthen and support this massive new tower. Funny enough, in an earthquake, this is going to be one of the safest structures to be in. Of course, all these extra enhancements come with a heftier price tag now putting the Wilshire Grand’s cost at $1.2 billion (initially it was projected to cost $1 billion).
So what’s the real exciting news?! The Wilshire Grand is so very close to topping out, which is always considered a milestone in any tower’s construction timeline but especially exciting for LA’s new tallest skyscraper. According to the contractor Turner Construction, the structural steel that makes up to the actual roof of the tower is scheduled for completion on March 8, 2016 reaching a height of 826 feet. Shortly after by March 24, all windows are scheduled to be installed on the tower giving it the status “electrified,” which means the tower is “waterproof” (from the rain) and electricity can turn on inside.
Wait! But what about the tower’s unique crown “sail” feature and beautiful illuminated spire? When will those go up? Both are scheduled to be installed by Labor Day this year with the tower opening March 8, 2017 coinciding with Yang Ho Cho’s birthday who is the Chairman of Korean Air, the Wilshire Grand’s owner.
Check out renderings of Wilshire Grand, including its sail and spire features.