Day 76/365 of Steel – Wilshire Grand Tower

23 june 2017: Inauguration of the Wilshire Grand Tower

Wilshire Grand Tower
Fig 1: Wilshire Grand Tower
©Wikimedia user Fredchang931124 licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

When we think of skyscrapers in the US, we almost automatically refer to New York or Chicago. For decades, the two cities have been competing with each other with ever new height records. In recent years, LA has been catching up. The Wilshire Grand Tower, which was inaugurated exactly 5 years ago, tops at 335m and has 73 floors, including 900 hotel rooms, retail shops and a convention centre.

Wilshire Grand Tower
Fig 2: Wilshire Grand Tower
Photo courtesy of Hunter Kerhart

The tower wraps around a 1,2m thick concrete core. Brace frames extend from the core at levels 25,55 and 70. Tubular steel columns tie in to the brace frames, forming the exterior frame and supporting the tower’s glass cladding and windows. A total of approx. 20.000 tons of structural steel was used.

image via Wired / Eric Adams

Wilshire Grand Tower is the first LA high-rise in recent memory that is not terminated abruptly at the top. Those flat tops are the result of a peculiar 1974 code, unique among cities, that mandates rooftop emergency helicopter landing facilities for buildings higher than 23m.

Located in California just 46 miles away from the San Andreas Fault, the Wilshire Grand would need to withstand earthquakes up to a magnitude of 7.4, as well as handle strong winds. The tall slender design of the tower made resistance to seismic activity a challenge. It meant the structure needed to be dynamic enough to handle environmental forces from both above and below ground.

Fig 5:  Construction worker at the Wilshire Grand Center
© gary leonard/wilshire grand

To reduce water use, several water-saving features were designed, including a stormwater and condensate harvesting system to operate the open air cooling towers used for climate control.
The Wilshire Grand skyscraper stands as a symbol of downtown Los Angeles’ revitalization and as a showcase for innovative design in high-rise buildings. The project surpassed its original target goal of LEED Silver to achieve LEED Gold certification.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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