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Tallest building west of the Mississippi opens in L.A.

Tallest building in L.A.
Tallest building west of the Mississippi River opens in L.A. 02:09

LOS ANGELES -- The tallest building west of the Mississippi River opened on Friday. Standing 1,100 feet tall, the Wilshire Grand Center is the latest in a crop of new skyscrapers in the Los Angeles skyline.

From the street to the spire, the Wilshire Grand reaches a sky-high 73 stories.  

Christopher Martin, the architect and development manager, says they've earned bragging rights. 

The Wilshire Grand Center, the tallest building west of the Mississippi, opened Friday. CBS News

"Built into the skin of this building, up the spines are high-density led lights. So many, that if we turn them all on and start operating them, it will stop traffic," Martin says.

Featuring restaurants, retail, and an international hotel, the complex was built at a cost of more than $1 billion by Korean Air. Martin says its chairman, Yang Ho Cho, admires California's scenic beauty so that inspired the design -- starting with the glass crown on top.

Architect Christopher Martin said the Wilshire Grand is modeled after the Sierra. CBS News

"It's actually the profile of half-dome in the Sierras, which is one of chairman Cho's favorite places -- and he'd been to Yosemite a lot, and the glass is the Merced River," Martin says. 

Building the tallest tower in a seismically active area also means it must have to be able to withstand a magnitude 7.5 earthquake.

"This is one of the safest buildings in the United States because it's designed to absorb energy," Martin says. 

It may be hard to wrap your head around, but Martin calls the building "a reed in the wind. The building has the ability to flex."

The Wilshire Grand opened on June 23, 2017. CBS News

But it also has the ability to help the home team celebrate. The sky's the limit with programmable LEDs embedded in the building.

"Every time the Dodgers hit a home run, we want the building to flash blue, Dodger blue. But then the chairman said, 'they have to pay for it!" Martin laughs.

Unless the Dodgers win the World Series, then Martin says, it on the house because the entire city would feel on top of the world.    

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