L.A.’s Tallest Tower Isn’t Finished Yet, But It’s Already Transforming the Downtown Skyline

A spire gives the Wilshire Grand the edge over the city’s reigning skyscraper
Illustration by Mike Hall
Illustration by Mike Hall

The construction of the Wilshire Grand in DTLA’s financial district has been something of an aerial dance, with the pouring of the concrete core, the ironwork, and the application of glass cladding all happening simultaneously as the building rises. By the time it opens in March 2017, Korean Air’s $1.2 billion tower will stand at 1,100 feet. That includes a 160-foot spire (the first one permitted since the city waived a fire safety regulation requiring that helicopters be able to land on building rooftops), without which the 73-story structure would fall shy of L.A.’s reigning skyscraper, the U.S. Bank Tower. Architectural firm AC Martin has designs for an observation deck and bar on the top floor (vertigo free of charge), with double-decker express elevators to get you there, while an Intercontinental Hotel will occupy floors 31 through 70. Much of the remaining space is being devoted to offices, though retail is headed for a ground-level public plaza marked by a swooping 240-foot-long atrium skylight along with an LED billboard to blast Shibuya-like advertisements above 7th and Figueroa streets. As project superintendent, Turner Construction’s Marc Turcot has to make sure the array of parts keeps moving in unison. His assessment? “It’s on schedule, which is quite the victory.”

Where: 930 Wilshire Blvd., downtown

When: March 2017

How much: $1.2 billion