flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
catfish1 - bottom
Currently Reading

LA's game changer: Wilshire Grand Center

Building Team Awards

LA's game changer: Wilshire Grand Center

Silver Award: This billion-dollar mixed-use tower will alter the Los Angeles skyline in more ways.

By David Barista, Editorial Director | May 22, 2018

At 1,100 feet, the 73-story Wilshire Grand Center is the tallest tower in Los Angeles and the nation’s tallest building west of Chicago. But its significance to the City of Angels is greater than its height. The billion-dollar project, developed by Korean Air and its parent company Hanjin International, is the latest addition to the city’s rejuvenated downtown, bringing 900 four-star hotel rooms, 400,000 sf of Class A office space, and more than 45,000 sf of retail and restaurants to the city center.

Topping the tower is a first for Los Angeles: a sloped, sail-shaped spire that stands out in a city of flat-topped structures. The 172-foot-tall, glass-and-steel structure would normally be prohibited in Los Angeles, due to a long-standing city ordinance that requires a helicopter pad on all buildings over 75 feet in height.

Looking to create a distinctive aesthetic for the Wilshire Grand Center—and a one-of-a-kind “sky lobby” for guests of the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel, which occupies the upper half of the tower—the project team collaborated with city officials on a variance to the city code. The solution involved placing a small pad at the midpoint of the spire that allows a portion of the helicopter to touch down. The design scheme also permits emergency personnel to be lowered onto and gain access to the roof. This performance-based approach could change the city’s skyline for years to come, if future projects follow suit.

To maximize leasable space and views of the city, the design team developed a structural solution that downsized the exterior columns while meeting structural and seismic performance requirements. The composite structure features a hardened concrete core with a structural steel frame that is supplemented with three levels of buckle-resistant bracing, which act as shock absorbers against earthquakes. The composite structural solution is a first for downtown Los Angeles.

These creative solutions were the result of a close-knit project team—owner, architect, engineers, contractor, subcontractors—that was assembled early during the design process. The team used design-assist delivery for the vertical transportation and building envelope design, as well as design-build MEP trade partners, prior to the start of design development. Early coordination helped the team solve complex issues. For instance, the team utilized prefab bathroom pods—698 in all—to shave roughly 100 man-hours per bathroom off the schedule, ensuring the project would be completed on time.


Prefab bathroom pods were among a host of innovations employed by the Building Team to pull off this ground-breaking high-rise project. Gary Leonard, Courtesy Turner.


Building Team — Submitting firm, general contractor Turner Construction Company Owner Hanjin International Architect AC Martin Partners Structural engineer Brandow & Johnston Mechanical engineer ACCO Engineered Systems Electrical engineer Rosendin Electric Plumbing engineer Pan Pacific Mechanical Construction manager Martin Project Management

General Information — Size 2.1 million sf Construction cost $1 billion Construction time September 2012 to June 2017 Delivery method CM at Risk


Return to the 2018 Building Team Awards Landing Page

Related Stories

| Aug 29, 2022

Montana becomes first U.S. state to approve 3D printing in construction

Montana is the first U.S. state to give broad regulatory approval for 3D printing in building construction.

Architects | Apr 22, 2022

Top 10 green building projects for 2022

The American Institute of Architects' Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced its COTE Top Ten Awards for significant achievements in advancing climate action.

Concrete Technology | Apr 19, 2022

SGH’s Applied Science & Research Center achieves ISO 17025 accreditation for concrete testing procedures

Simpson Gumpertz & Heger’s (SGH) Applied Science & Research Center recently received ISO/IEC17025 accreditation from the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) for several concrete testing methods.

2021 Building Team Awards | Jan 14, 2022

First public-private partnership project in Veterans Administration history saves $34 million in costs

LEO A DALY and McCarthy Building Companies head the project team for the Omaha VA Ambulatory Care Center in BD+C’s 2021 Building Team Awards.

Building Team Awards | Dec 8, 2021

A performing arts center celebrates a legendary rocker and his birthplace

Buddy Holly Hall in Texas receives BD+C’s Silver Building Team Award.

Building Team Awards | Dec 7, 2021

A rapid response to a health emergency

Baptist Hospital of Miami’s 233-bed Hope Tower receives BD+C’s Bronze Building Team Award

Building Team Awards | Dec 3, 2021

Putting science on display, thanks to a design-build approach

UC Riverside’s Plant Growth Environments Facility receives BD+C’s Bronze Building Team Award.

Building Team Awards | Dec 2, 2021

An academic ‘precinct’ brings arts and sciences together

Wofford College’s Chandler Center for Environmental Studies receives BD+C’s Silver Building Team Award.

Building Team Awards | Dec 1, 2021

Denver sets the bar for water reclamation and reuse

A new administration building for the city’s water utility company scores Platinum in BD+C’s 2021 Building Team Awards.

2021 Building Team Awards | Nov 17, 2021

Caltech's new neuroscience building unites scientists, engineers to master the human brain

The Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena wins a Gold Award in BD+C's 2021 Building Team Awards.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category

halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021