Seismically Sophisticated Skyscraper in Los Angeles

It seems ironic that as thousands of buildings in Los Angeles are being mandatorily seismically retrofitted a massive, 1,110 foot tall building would be built next-door. The Wilshire Grand Center, now the tallest building in California, is located at 9000 Wilshire Boulevard and is quite “grand” indeed. This massive new structure which officially opened on June 23, 2017 has 73 floors which houses nearly 900 hotel rooms and 400,000 square feet of office space ( When plans for this building were introduced, there was concern for the success of such a structure in the case of an earthquake. Particularly, in the case of an earthquake that is over magnitude 7. This threat is why Los Angeles, though certainly a big city, is not filled with tall towers and skyscrapers- as is the case in other large cities (Newsweek).

In order to help ensure this building’s safety in the case of a major earthquake, its design incorporates a variety of “earthquake-proof” amenities.  At the core of these precautions is the nearly 18 foot thick concrete foundation, which according to one of the building’s engineers will help support the building greatly during a quake (Los Angeles Downtown News). In addition, concessions have also been made in regards to emergency services. Since the building is so tall, there were concerns that emergency responders would have a difficult time reaching the top floors. To remedy this a “fireman’s elevator” was placed within the core of the building protected by over 2 feet of concrete. It has been suggested that the Wilshire Grand Center can sway up to 17 inches without giving way under the pressure of a major quake. While there is no way of knowing how such a large structure will perform in an earthquake, engineers and designers worked tirelessly to ensure that this building would work as hard as they did.

The Wilshire Grand Center is a very sophisticated structure and the city of Los Angeles would not have allowed its construction had it not been. Seismic safety is extremely important, especially in a state like California, so it is encouraging to see building policies reflect that.

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