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New Wilshire Grand to include 'sky lobby,' high-tech elevators and one-of-a-kind helipad

By Hayley Fox
Published: Friday, February 08, 2013, at 09:29AM
AC Martin

A rendering of what DTLA's new skyline will look like with the addition of the new Wilshire Grand.



Developers unveiled plans this week for the new Wilshire Grand hotel and office tower, and the futuristic design sounds like something conjured up from a very modern Willy Wonka.

The $1 billion project will include super speed elevators that usher hotel guests from the first floor to the "sky lobby" and restaurant, 70 stories off the ground. Above that is an infinity pool and bar, with an open air garden approximately 1,000 feet in the air.

The 900, "four star plus" hotel rooms and 400,000 square feet of office space will be floor-to-ceiling glass; not the best for those afraid of heights, but designers say this feature will allow 24/7 views of the skyline and usher in an abundance of natural light.

The office area will be accessible by its own type of high-tech, elevator -- one that has no buttons and knows where you are going and your typical daily schedule, based on a swipe of your ID card.

And if you want to tell the elevator to take you to a different floor?

"Well, you can’t," said Chris Martin, CEO of AC Martin and Martin Project Management. "We don’t want you to. We want you to register where you’re going with your ID card, and it says, ‘Oh. I know where you’re going.” And it takes you there, and ‘I know what time of day you arrive so I’m waiting for you because you get here every day at 8:05.”

At 1,100 feet, the new Wilshire Grand will technically become the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, trumping the reigning champion that is also located in Downtown, the U.S. Bank building.

But, Martin clarifies, "To the level of occupied floors, the other building is taller."

It's the new Wilshire Grand's spire and marquee that will stretch the structure to it's record-breaking height.

But with great height comes great responsibility; at least, to the fire department.

L.A. Fire Chief Brian Cummings said they have been working with the architects on this project to develop the appropriate safeguards for a building of its size -- which includes installing a helipad.

"It doesn't have a flat roof so we needed to look for another way we could bring in a helicopter if we need it for some type of emergency situation," said Cummings.

The new hotel and office space will also include a fire service elevator in a fire-resistant core and an enhanced fire alarm system that has the ability to pinpoint where the emergency is in the massive building and provide video of that location.

Area councilman José Huizar said the new Wilshire Grand "represents a new chapter of world-class architecture gracing Los Angeles’ skyline" and said that the "iconic design will be a model for future high-rise buildings in Downtown."

According to the councilman's office, Huizar supported the non-flat roof design and said that in the future he will support similar agreements to help encourage a DTLA skyline that reflects the creativity of its population.

This incarnation of the Wilshire Grand will be replacing the hotel that closed its doors in December 2011. Korean Air will remain as the owner and developer.

The airlines' chairman, Y.H. Cho, said in a statement: “The new Wilshire Grand is an investment that makes sense and we are excited to continue our relationship with this great city. Together, we have helped make L.A. a global connection and destination for world travelers.”

The new hotel and office tower is scheduled to open in 2017.

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