The Tallest In The West

An Exclusive Photo Session atop the near complete Wilshire Grand Tower.
JasperDeJesus6
A welder hangs on the side of the building. You can see the helipad of the PWC building in the background which gives you an idea of how high up he is in relevance to the PWC buiding.

The Wilshire Grand Center towers over surrounding buildings in Los Angeles and will hold the title of being the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi. LA’s new high rise will include an iconic spire at the top of the building making the structure stand at 1,100 feet above ground level. The skyscraper’s height is not the only distinct feature it will possess but will also be known for being the first skyscraper in LA without a flat roof. This S1 billion project is estimated to be completed by March 8, 2017. The tower will be used as a hotel consisting of 900 luxury rooms and the other floors will be used for office spaces, retail shops, restaurants and ballrooms. You will also be able to enjoy the view of Los Angeles from the 70th floor sky lobby which will include a rooftop pool and top deck gardens.

@R3KVL's aerial shot over the Wilshire Grand Tower taken from a helicopter.
@R3KVL‘s aerial shot over the Wilshire Grand Tower taken from a helicopter.
Taken from the 73rd floor. You can see the US Bank Tower which is currently the tallest building in the west... until the completion of The Wilshire Grand Center
Taken from the 73rd floor. You can see the US Bank Tower which is currently the tallest building in the west… until the completion of The Wilshire Grand Center

Turner Construction is the main contractor and construction company responsible for bringing this larger than life structure to fruition. There are about 900 construction workers assigned to the Wilshire Grand Center project ranging from ironworkers, concrete specialists, rebar crews, window installers, crane operators, carpenters, electricians and plumbers. With the deadline fast approaching, these hardworking construction workers are putting in 13 hour days, 6-7 days a week.

@R3KVL's photo of (from left to right) Paul aka "Lucky Bastard", Joseph aka "Spanky", Jose aka "Joserkon", Andrew aka "The Stew", Tony & Jose aka "Dogtown" #TheHighRiseBoys
@R3KVL ‘s photo of (from left to right) Paul aka “Lucky Bastard”, Joseph aka “Spanky”, Jose aka “Joserkon”, Andrew aka “The Stew”, Tony & Jose aka “Dogtown” #TheHighRiseBoys
Carpenters work on the elevator shaft of the Wilshire Grand Center. This is how it looks before installing the elevators. If you ever get to ride the elevator once completed, remember this is what is looked like during construction.
Carpenters work on the elevator shaft of the Wilshire Grand Center located in the center of the building. This is how it looks before installing the actual elevators. If you ever get to ride the elevator once completed, remember this is what it looked like during construction.
Tony Chavez (left) is a Journeymen Ironworker. Joseph Flores aka "Spanky" (right) is a BoltUp Formen. He is responsible for making sure all floor openings are covered properly for safety, installation of lines and connectors so his crew can walk safely around the beams, ensuring all bolts have been securely tightened and more...
Tony Chavez (left) is a Journeymen Ironworker. Joseph Flores aka “Spanky” (right) is a BoltUp Formen. He is responsible for making sure all floor openings are covered properly for safety, installation of lines and connectors so his crew can walk safely around the beams, ensuring all bolts have been securely tightened and more…

I was given the rare opportunity to come up to the top (73rd floor) of the Wilshire Grand tower to take photographs and spend some time with the workers. Los Angeles street photographer, @R3KVL (Instagram) was the first to document the construction workers and helped me gain access to this exclusive opportunity. He took several photographs from different stages of the construction. Getting photography access was not easy. As I was being escorted up by a supervisor, he was explaining that some well known media groups were denied access simply due to the high demand of requests. We hopped on a caged elevator attached to the side of the building which transports materials and workers to the different floors. This could take several minutes since there is only one elevator going up and down at a time. As we got closer to the 73rd floor, some electricians hopped on and were immediately kicked out by the supervisor as they were trying to go to the top floor. He explained to me that all the other workers try to sneak up to the top to get a picture and catch the view from the top. At this moment, I felt very lucky just being up there.

View from the top, 73rd floor facing south.
View from the top, 73rd floor facing south.
A welder works close to the edge of the top floor as he is attached to a safety cable.
A welder works close to the edge of the top floor as he is attached to a safety cable.

The view from the 73rd floor was surreal and unlike any rooftops I’ve ever been on in Los Angeles. Looking out west, you can see the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Beach into the distance. Standing on the edge of the south side of the Wilshire Grand Tower, you can see well over the Ritz Carlton Hotel and down below runs the 110 South and North freeways. Only two thin wires stood between you and the ground below when looking over the edge of the 73rd floor. The construction workers were all busy at time I was up there. There were about 4 welders suspended on each sides of the building. Massive loads of wood were being hoisted onto the top level by the crane operators as one of the workers was directing the operator through a two way radio. Iron workers were tightening bolts of the gigantic steel beams that framed the outer structures. I got to visit many floors and saw the different stages of progress every floor eventually goes through from beginning to end. I wish I could have spent the whole day up there just photographing everything and anything. After an hour and some minutes, the supervisor escorted me back down as my “tour” had ended.

The look down view of the PWC building from the 73rd floor. To the left, you can see the 110 North & South Freeways.
The look down view of the PWC building from the 73rd floor. To the left, you can see the 110 North & South Freeways.
A construction worker walks over steel rods as the crane operator hoists a load to the top.
A construction worker walks over steel rods as the crane operator hoists a load to the top.

 

One of the welders takes a quick break. He uses a bandana to wipe off the sweat after taking off his welding mask.
One of the welders takes a quick break. He uses a bandana to wipe off the sweat after taking off his welding mask.

I am very fortunate in being able to capture the people building the Wilshire Grand Center and more importantly being able to share it with you all. I’ve been photographing Los Angeles for many years now, but this has got to be the best experience so far.

Special thanks goes out to @R3KVL (Instagram) and Joseph Flores aka “Spanky” for this opportunity!

Contributing Photographer

Los Angeles based visual artist. Painter and photographer. Creating beautiful images and capturing the essence and diversity of Los Angeles. Follow me on Instagram @jasperdejesus or visit www.jasperdejesus.com