Beauty and The Beast: The Wilshire Grand’s Facade Design in LA’s Seismic Zone 4 Reality

Not since City Hall has a tall building truly addressed the issue of creating an iconic skyline for Los Angeles. The Wilshire Grand Tower is a building of our time, a contemporary contrast to a generation of flat top buildings composed of granite and inset windows. Fulfilling a design vision of glass in L.A.’s seismic Zone 4 environment will be examined. Offering views never seen before in downtown Los Angeles, large format glass clads the tower to maximize visible light and openness. Factors that influenced the glass selection and stack joint design will be reviewed. Reminiscent of Yosemite’s Half Dome, the 73-story tower rises above a solid podium base. Bridging between these forms is a lyrical doubly curved skylight that provides the enclosure for the central Atrium. The challenges and innovative solutions involved in achieving this parametric object will be explored. Finally, the design of the iconic Crown will be investigated. The signature top rises 10-stories above the tower’s observation deck. Wrapped in glass, the Crown completes the architectural parti while responding to G4 forces.