Business & Economy

After 3 years of construction, the Wilshire Grand Center opens its doors

ATOMIC Hot Links via Flickr Creative Commons

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After three years of construction, the Wilshire Grand Center opens its doors to the public Friday. The 73-story building includes restaurants, stores, offices and a nearly 900-room hotel.

At 1,100 feet, the skyscraper is the tallest building west of the Mississippi (82 feet taller than the US Bank building, which previously held that distinction).

Here for your viewing pleasure are some eye-popping photos of the new building (some are from Offramp's 2016 visit) and some fun facts to impress your friends.

It's the only L.A. high rise that doesn't have a flat roof

Instead, it's got a sloped roof and a 284-foot spire.

Gary Leonard, Gary Leonard

That means there's no helipad, which means a rescue team can't land on top of the building in the event of a fire.

So the building's developers added additional fire safety features throughout the hotel, including a "control room" for firefighters. It has a dashboard of networked video screens that let fire crews monitor every floor of the hotel, and a communications system they can use to talk to people on any floor.  There are also enhanced smoke detection systems and additional sprinklers throughout the hotel.

Parts of the hotel were built in far away lands

Like these glass panels:

The glass panels, also known as curtain walls, were assembled in Mexico and shipped nightly to the jobsite
The glass panels, also known as curtain walls, were assembled in Mexico and shipped nightly to the jobsite
ATOMIC Hot Links via Flickr Creative Commons

"The aluminum came from Korea, the glass came from Michigan. The gaskets came from Asia. They were all shipped to Mexico, put together in Mexico, and then shipped to the project," said project manager and architect Christopher Martin.

Each night, shipments arrived at the downtown L.A. job site.

"At 6:30 the next morning, the workman walks into the job ... and he puts it in place. Just-in-time delivery," Martin said.

The same thing happened with the bathrooms.

A company in the central California town of Madera built 700 of them in a factory – each bathroom weighed about 10,000 pounds. They were trucked into downtown L.A. on flatbed trucks, six at a time. Each morning, a crane hoisted the bathrooms into place, and workers bolted them down.

The off-site construction shaved off countless hours of time and eased crowding: Even without all of the workers who would have been required to install the bathrooms, an average of 1,500 people worked on the job site each day, sharing just two elevators.

The building holds a world record

It's for the largest continuous concrete pour in history – 82 million pounds in all, which is now in the Guinness Book of World Records.

All told, 11,000 people worked on the job site over the 40 months of construction (that's a lot of hardhats). 

The view from the 69th floor of the Wilshire Grand Tower in downtown Los Angeles
The view from the 69th floor of the Wilshire Grand Tower in downtown Los Angeles
John Rabe/KPCC

You can watch a video about the construction process here.