One of the most anticipated - and tallest - projects in recent Los Angeles history is finally complete. On June 23, the new $1.2 billion Wilshire Grand Center mixed-use development opened for business after more than three years of construction.  

Located on the former site of the historic Wilshire Grand hotel, which closed in 2011, the new 73-story tower stands 1,100 ft-tall, making it the new tallest structure in Downtown LA and according to project officials, it is also the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. The skyscraper is about 82 ft taller than its neighbor and former tallest building in LA, the US Bank Tower. This height difference comes mainly from an iconic steel spire that sits atop the Wilshire Grand and stands 294-ft, 9-inches.

The  project was developed by Korean Air Lines Co., and built by Turner Construction Company, with Brandow & Johnston serving as the Structural Engineer of Record. A.C. Martin was in charge of the design.

Destined to become a top entertainment / hospitality destination for the city, the new development includes a 900-room, luxury hotel that sits above 400,000 sq-ft of office space and more than 45,000 sq ft of retail. Other amenities include restaurants and bars, ballrooms, retail shops, and a 70th floor sky lobby. There is also below grade parking for 1,250 cars, along with stunning views from an observatory deck and a sky pool deck.

The hotel inside the Wilshire Grand Center is The InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown. It occupies floors 31 through 68, boasts 889 guest rooms, and is scheduled to open July 2.

At the grand opening event Chris Martin, CEO and president of A.C. Martin, said the Wilshire Grand is "designed as a tribute to, and for, the city of Los Angeles." I spoke to Martin a while back about the new building's distinctive spire and he told me that the project is a "big deal because my grandfather did L.A. City Hall in the 1920s, and that is the only other building in the city that really has an architectural top. All the buildings in L.A. have flat, truncated tops, so this is going to stand out—and we want it to."

The spire and the entire exterior skin of the tower, which was design-assisted by Martin's cousin, David Martin, filled with programmable LED lighting. The project team showcased this LED light system on opening night, as they illuminated the entire building and much of Downtown Los Angeles with a dazzling array of lights accompanied by music.

Besides lights and luxury, the building is also structurally advanced, as it is built with bucking restrained braces (BRB) and is designed to withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake. On the sustainable side of things it meets "Green California" guidelines and its hotel LEED rated.

Over the course of construction, 11,500 workers spent 5,433,012 hours constructing the skyscraper. Besides being the tallest structure in LA, the project also saw a record-breaking concrete mat pour in February 2014. With a convoy of trucks, the three-day pour filled a city block-sized hole with 24,000 cu-yds of concrete to form a 20-ft-thick mat foundation.