The long-awaited design of a $1-billion hotel and office skyscraper to be built in downtown Los Angeles -- soon to be tallest building in the West -- was unveiled Thursday by developer Korean Airlines.
At 73 stories, the tower at Wilshire Boulevard and Figueroa Street will be a dramatic addition to the city skyline and a symbol of South Korea's growing status as a global economic powerhouse.
The Wilshire Grand will slightly surpass in height the 72-story U.S. Bank Tower on Bunker Hill that has held the title of tallest west of Chicago since 1989. Korean Air is already at work dismantling the shuttered 1950s-era Wilshire Grand Hotel at Wilshire and Figueroa to make way for the glass-clad tower expected to be completed in 2017.
Korean Air has served Los Angeles for more than 40 years and owned the Wilshire Grand since 1989.
"The new Wilshire Grand is an investment that makes sense and we are excited to continue our relationship with this great city," Korean Air Chairman Y.H. Cho said.
As designed by Los Angeles architecture firm AC Martin Partners, arriving hotel guests will be whisked by high-speed elevators to the "sky lobby" on the 70th floor for check-in to one of 900 rooms. An operator, who could bring a familiar brand name to the inn, has yet to be selected.
The 71st floor will be a restaurant. The floor above that will house window-washing gear and engineering equipment, clearing the top floor for an "infinity" swimming pool and recreation area.
At street level there will be about three floors of restaurants and shops, topped by 30 floors of offices for rent.
Korean Air is the flagship company for Hanjin Group, which has $20 billion in annual revenue from its interests in land, sea and air transportation as well as construction, heavy industry, finance and formation services.
Los Angeles architect David Martin, a principal at AC Martin Partners, is designing the project. Martin designed the Figueroa-at-Wilshire high-rise across the street from the Wilshire Grand in 1990. The family firm was the primary architect of Los Angles City Hall in the 1920s.
The 936-room Wilshire Grand, built in 1952, was originally a Hotel Statler and later a Hilton. Once one of the city's best hotels, it was most recently a mid-market inn catering to conventioneers and tour groups from overseas before it closed at the end of 2011. The property is a few blocks north of Staples Center.