downtown los angeles, financial district
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Wow! Wilshire Grand Skyscraper Topping Out in March in Downtown LA

LA's newest skyscraper is topping out in March with its crown "sail" feature and spire to be installed by Labor Day this year as well

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.

The grand plaza entrance off of 7th Street and Figueroa will greet future guests to Wilshire Grand

The grand plaza entrance off of 7th Street and Figueroa will greet future guests to Wilshire Grand

One of the main features of the grand plaza entrance will be a swooping glass-canopy seen here from the future ballroom lobby

One of the main features of the grand plaza entrance will be a swooping glass-canopy seen here from the future ballroom lobby

The future Intercontinental Hotel ballroom will become the city's largest with up to 2,200 person capacity

The future Intercontinental Hotel ballroom will become the city’s largest with up to 2,200 person capacity

The ballroom will have outdoor patio areas like this one with concrete planters and city views

The ballroom will have outdoor patio areas like this one with concrete planters and city views

The white-colored metal framing going up on the roof will cover the ballroom's unsightly AC units so hotel guests won't see it when looking down from above

The white-colored metal framing going up on the roof will cover the ballroom’s unsightly AC units so hotel guests won’t see it when looking down from above

This will be the grand porte-cochere for hotel guests

This will be the grand porte-cochere for hotel guests

This approximately 3,000 square foot retail space facing Wilshire/Figueroa is looking for a high-end retailer like Apple or Tesla

This approximately 3,000 square foot retail space facing Wilshire/Figueroa is looking for a high-end retailer like Apple or Tesla

Those wires hanging down will power large LED billboards installed on the INSIDE instead of outside of the building for a seamless visual approach

Those wires hanging down will power large LED billboards installed on the INSIDE instead of outside of the building for a seamless visual approach

As someone who is afraid of heights, it was both thrilling and harrowing for me to take the construction hoist elevator up to the upper office floors

As someone who is afraid of heights, it was both thrilling and harrowing for me to take the construction hoist elevator up to the upper office floors

Future office tenants will occupy floors 3 to 37 (everything above will be the hotel, restaurants, and rooftop pool)

Future office tenants will occupy floors 3 to 37 (everything above will be the hotel, restaurants, and rooftop pool)

Office tenants will have purified air pumped into each floor

Office tenants will have purified air pumped into each floor

Both office tenants and future hotel guests will have spectacular city views

Both office tenants and future hotel guests will have spectacular city views

Wilshire Grand uses state-of-the-art engineering to strengthen the structure

Wilshire Grand uses state-of-the-art engineering to strengthen the structure

LED lighting (the white strip) are installed along the tower's facade and will light up at night in different colors

LED lighting (the white strip) are installed along the tower’s facade and will light up at night in different colors

Me and Annie Ha of Cushman & Wakefield (my childhood friend!) toured Wilshire Grand

Me and Annie Ha of Cushman & Wakefield (my childhood friend!) toured Wilshire Grand

9 Comments

  1. Gary Haven says

    Once again another excellent story about this grand addition to DTLA. Great job!!

    PS: Congrats on riding that elevator. Don’t know if I could do it! :-)

  2. Christopher says

    I keep reading that it will exceed the height of the US Bank tower, but in all the renderings it looks like the only thing that might be taller is a thin spire. Is it a trick of perspective or will it really be significantly taller than the bank building?

    • JDRCRASHER says

      It will be taller than US Bank with the spire, but not dramatically, as the latter’s current elevation on Bunker Hill will really cut into the actual difference.

  3. Oren Peleg says

    Will the concrete core correspond to the top floor? Or will the “crown” feature be installed around the top of the core?

    • Christopher Eaton says

      Hello Oren,

      The crown feature is on top of the core and will add almost 200 feet to the total height of the building, including the spire. I haven’t been able to ascertain from research exactly how long the spire is, but graphics make it appear that the peak of the crown will be slightly shorter than the top of US Bank Tower by a few feet, especially given that building’s position on Bunker Hill, as JDRCRASHER alluded to. Nonetheless, it’ll be quite an amazing building and a terrific addition to the skyline!

      • nomad says

        Is the US Bank Tower really considered to be on Bunker Hill? The lobby entrance is on 5th Street at the base of Bunker Hill, hence the steps and escalator, so I don’t see how it’s getting much of a height advantage. I’ve heard this argument before, but don’t think the elevation difference at the lobbies can be that much.

        • nomad says

          Looked in to this a little more, and looking at Google Earth US Bank Tower is at ~ 303′ at 5th street
          and the Wilshire Grand is at ~ 290′ at Wilshire and Fig.

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