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.
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.
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.
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.
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!