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Secret designs were just released of the Wilshire Grand, a 73-story, 1,100-foot-tall hotel/office tower/retail/phallic image that will be the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast and in Los Angeles, pushing out Library Tower (officially, U.S. Bank Tower) as the 10th-tallest building in America.
OK, another glass building on the skyline, big deal, it's only taller than Library Tower thanks to a 166-foot "glowing glass pediment and spire." Here's why you should care: the monstrosity is not only wicked tall, the hotel has a Sky Lobby on the 70th floor - giving the public staggering views of our metropolis. Perfect timing, since the AQMD has seriously slashed smog (2003 was the last Stage 1 alert.) Huzzah!
As incredible as it may seem, Los Angeles currently offers nothing higher than a measly 35-story ...
... viewing platform from which the public can take in its prodigious sprawl.
From no tall building can the public see both Catalina Island and Dodger Stadium (which, from an airplane, looks like a tiny teacup buried in bowl of coffee -- it's massive parking lot) in one good, long panoramic look.
New York has the Empire State Building, with a 360-degree observation deck on its 86th floor. Chicago's Sears Tower (ridiculously renamed Willis Tower) has a public "skydeck" on the 103rd floor. Seattle has the towering Columbia Center public observation deck and the iconic Space Needle.
And what do we have?
Uh, well, there's the slowly rotating private bar/restaurant on the 35th floor of the Bonaventure Hotel, a high-rise dwarfed by block-shaped, observation deck-less Downtown skyscrapers.
There's the 27th-floor pyramid-shaped public observation deck atop Los Angeles City Hall, whose daily hours of operation and even existence are largely kept from the public, and which sometimes features L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge going on and on about something.
After that, we're down to what for great, expansive views of L.A.?
The Downtown Standard's private pool deck and bar? Your dentist's office on the Westside? A road pull-out on Mulholland Drive?
The mega-project, designed by Coldplay lead singer architect Chris Martin, will break ground this year and is scheduled to be completed in 2017. The price tag: one billion dollars.
According to current plans, the new Wilshire Grand will have 900 hotel rooms, 45,100 square feet of retail space, 400,000 square feet of office space, 35 elevators, 14 escalators, and a fucking infinity pool on the 73rd floor. Too bad it won't be ready for the Entourage movie.
The OG Wilshire Grand was a 16-story hotel built in 1952 at Wilshire and Figueroa for a paltry $25 million. It hosted the 1952 Emmy Awards; housed the jurors in the 1993 Rodney King trial (TV sets and radios were removed from their hotel rooms); and served as headquarters to the Democratic National Convention in 2000 when, according to the L.A. Times, "an animal-rights activist in a pink pig costume dumped four tons of manure on the hotel driveway to protest the treatment of animals." It works on so many levels!
The original hotel was renovated and renamed over the years: the Hotel Statler, the Statler Hilton, the Omni (where this reporter, in his youthful college years, would, with friends, sneak into the hotel's Jacuzzi).
In 1989, Korean Airlines bought the hotel, closing it in 2011. Korean Airlines is now demolishing the hotel to make way for the skyscraper.
Depending on your political persuasion, this is either:
A.) A sign that the recession is ending and that economic good times are about to start rolling once again.
B.) A sign that the city has completely sold out to big developers and the unions and the digital sign manufacturers and ever-powerful glass industry.
C.) Wooooooooooo skyscrapers are coolllllllll.
D.) I miss the Downtown where you could buy heroin and get robbed at knife-point.
For us, it's a little bit of all four.
©2018 LA Weekly, LP. All rights reserved.
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