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Downtown L.A. Skyscrapers, It's All About You

Downtown L.A. Skyscrapers, It's All About You

Thanks to these towering buildings, the downtown district is postcard-perfect, unexplored by many but recognized by all.

Roubina Al Abashian


4 min read

September 19, 2021

Downtown L.A.’s history with skyscrapers dates back to 1903 when the construction of the city’s first high-rise, Braly Block (now the Continental Building now) was completed. Today, the 151-foot building stands proud in the City of Angels, despite the fact that it’s nowhere close to being as tall as the newer skyscrapers dotting the L.A. skyline—seven of which have made it to the Golden State’s tallest ten buildings list. 

Thanks to these towering buildings, the downtown district is postcard-perfect, unexplored by many but recognized by all. Learn about the most prominent Downtown L.A. skyscrapers that provide magnificent skyline views from afar.

The Wilshire Grand Center includes 67,000 square feet of retail, 677,000 square feet of Class A office, and the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown.

1. Wilshire Grand Center

In the heart of Downtown L.A. stands the tallest building in Los Angeles and west of the Mississippi, Wilshire Grand Center. Completed in 2017, the iconic tower is one of the latest additions to the D.T.L.A. skyline—latest and highest to be exact. The 73-floor structure was a vision of Hanjin Group as a token of friendship between South Korea and the U.S. The L.A.-based architectural firm, A.C. Martin Partners oversaw the design of the building, with its floor-to-ceiling glass exterior and distinctive sail-shaped crown. 

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Wilshire Grand Center is 1,100-feet tall and houses 890 rooms of the InterContinental Hotel, as well as the tallest open-air bar on the Western Hemisphere, Spire 73. This top L.A. attraction is one of the most Instagrammable places in the city—that is, if you somehow manage to fit it into your camera screen. 

U.S. Bank Tower was known as the tallest building in the world with a roof-top heliport from its completion in 1989 to 2010.

2. U.S. Bank Tower

Once the tallest building in Los Angeles, the U.S. Bank Tower now comes in second behind Wilshire Grand Center. Built between 1987 and 1990, the awe-inspiring building sat alone over 1,000 feet for almost two decades, attracting tourists from all over the world. The U.S. Bank Tower was designed by Ellerbe Becket and Pei Cobb Freed and Partners—it cost $350 million to build the skyscraper. Its structure was designed to resist an earthquake of 8.3 on the Richter scale, making the U.S. Bank Tower the third-tallest building in a major active seismic region.

Based on concentric geometries, the circular skyscraper leads up to a glass crown, which illuminates the L.A. skyline every night. Its light-colored exterior and bright green glass beautifully contrast its surrounding, darker-colored skyscrapers. If you’re interested in seeing iconic Los Angeles architecture, this 73-story beauty isn’t afraid to show off.

From 1973 until 1981, Aon Center was known as the United California Bank Building before becoming the First Interstate Tower.

3. Aon Center

Another one of Downtown L.A.’s tallest buildings is—drum roll please—the Aon Center. At 858 feet, Aon Center is noticeably shorter than the other two, despite the fact that it used to be the tallest in Los Angeles between 1973 and 1990 (until the U.S. Bank Tower was completed). Now, almost 50 years later, the skyscraper is an L.A. landmark, symbolizing the city’s commitment to business and community. 

Designed by Charles Luckman, the rectangular bronze-clad building, in its modernized form, provides many filming attractions, including a lobby, lounge areas, and spacious meeting rooms. If you’re all about getting to know the downtown district, this historic center has tons of stories to tell.

Completed in 1992 by Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company, Two California Plaza has 1.329 million square feet of office space.

4. Two California Plaza

One California Plaza and Two California Plaza are the two distinct towers that make up the California Plaza project. The 750-square-foot, 52-story class-A office skyscraper is located in D.T.L.A.'s Bunker Hill neighborhood. Completed in 1992, the skyscraper was designed by Arthur Erickson Architects. 

The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), one of L.A.'s major museums, the Omni Los Angeles Hotel, and Colburn School of Performing Arts are all located here. The building also has a performance plaza, a stunning dancing fountain, and a 1.5-acre water court.

The first tenant to have their brand attached to the top of Gas Company Tower was Deloitte in 2014.

5. Gas Company Tower

The Gas Company Tower is an award-winning, 52-story structure that’s also located in the prestigious Bunker Hill district. As one of the tallest towers in Los Angeles, it’s considered a SoCal architectural landmark that’s worth visiting. Officially opened in 1991, the building stands tall at 749-feet and features 1.4 million square feet of office space. In a neighborhood of historic buildings, the Gas Company Tower stands out as a beacon of modernism and serves as the headquarters of the Southern California Gas Company. The skyscraper was designed by legendary architect Richard Keating of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. It goes without saying that the Gas Company Tower is one of the pillars of D.T.L.A. that you can’t skip out on.

Bank of America Plaza site is situated on 4.21 acres that features a formal garden with over 200 trees and three 24-feet waterfalls.

6. Bank of America Plaza

Designed by Albert C. Martin and Associates and Peter Walker and Partners, the Bank of America Plaza is yet another towering skyscraper that reaches the clouds. The building was once known as the Security Pacific Plaza but changed its name in 1992 when Bank of America acquired the Security Pacific Bank. With a height of 735 feet, the building has 55 stories of office space and a 4.2-acre site, which features a landscaped plaza. The plaza is home to Alexander Calder’s “Four Arches” sculpture, which was installed in 1974—the year the plaza was complete. In 2009, Bank of America Plaza had the highest assessed value of any office building in the entire county. 

South Figueroa Plaza Associates built 777 Tower in 1991, a 1,025,000-square-foot building with a three-story Italian marble lobby.

7. 777 Tower

777 Tower may be shorter than the other mentioned skyscrapers, but it too graces the D.T.L.A. sky gloriously and effortlessly. At 725 feet, it’s the seventh and final skyscraper above the 700-foot mark. César Pelli is credited for designing the office structure, sometimes referred to as the Pelli Tower. This impressive skyscraper's interior is renowned for its three-story Italian marble lobby, while its façade is covered in sculpted white metal and glass. Fun fact: despite the fact that it was still under construction in 1989, shots of 777 Tower were shown in the comedy Police Academy 6: City Under Siege.

Have you been to any of these skyscrapers? Which one’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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