Tallest Buildings In California Today
Tallest Buildings In California Today

California doesn't have the tallest buildings in the world--no way! It doesn't even have the tallest buildings in the U.S. But it does have the tallest buildings West of the Mississippi. Built in the earthquake zone, California's tall buildings have not trended toward taller, while other places around the globe--such as China and Dubai--have set new records! If you've ever been in a tall building in California during an earthquake, you may feel a rolling motion underneath you. Tall building designs use special construction and engineering methods to "roll with it," thus handling earthquakes better without toppling over. While California's tallest buildings were initially built for business enterprises as corporate headquarters, today's construction is geared toward mixed use that contains office space, residential, hotels and shopping all in one place.

Los Angeles (and especially Downtown) then went through a large building boom that lasted from the early 1960s to the early 1990s, during which time the city saw the completion of 23 of its 30 tallest buildings, including the U.S. Bank Tower, the Aon Center, and Two California Plaza. Modern skyscrapers are difficult and expensive to construct in Los Angeles due to the city's high rate of earthquakes and position near the San Andreas fault line, as well as the resulting difficulty of adhering to the city's rigorous engineering standards. Nevertheless, a number of successful and iconic skyscrapers dot the Los Angeles skyline from Downtown Los Angeles through Koreatown, along the Wilshire Corridor and Miracle Mile, and in Century City and other areas of the city's west side. Other skyscraper hubs in LA include Century Boulevard by LAX, the Hollywood district in central L.A., and Warner Center, NoHo, and Universal City in the San Fernando Valley. LA's west side has so many skyscrapers, often Wilshire Boulevard in the Westwood District and Century City's skyscrapers are often confused with being DTLA by visitors arriving from LAX.

As of February 2021, Los Angeles has over 806 high-rise buildings over 100 feet (30 m), many new low rise apartment buildings, 45 buildings over 400 feet (120 m), and 18 buildings over 600 feet (183 m), including two supertalls over 1,000 feet (305 m), the Wilshire Grand and U.S. Bank Tower. Its skyline is ranked 1st in the Pacific coast region and 5th in the United States, after New York City, Chicago, Miami, and Houston.

Take a look at top 10 tallest buildings in California today, according to Wikipedia.

The List of top 10 tallest buildings in California

10. City National Tower - 699 ft

9. Figueroa at Wilshire – 717 ft

8. Wells Fargo Center – 723 ft

7. 777 Tower – 725 ft

6. Bank of America Plaza – 735 ft

5. Gas Company Tower – 749 ft

4. Two California Plaza – 750 ft

3. Aon Center – 858 ft

2. U.S. Bank Tower – 1,081 ft

1. Wilshire Grand Center - 1,100 ft

What are the top 10 tallest buildings in California today?

10. City National Tower - 699 ft

Photo:  Los Angeles Business Journal
Photo: Los Angeles Business Journal

City National Plaza is a twin tower high-rise complex located in downtown Los Angeles, California, comprising City National Tower and Paul Hastings Tower. The 213.1 m (699 ft) 52-storey structures are located on the site of the Art Deco Richfield Tower, that was designed by Morgan, Walls & Clements in the 1920s, and what is now the Paul Hastings Tower, became the new world headquarters for the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO).

Upon completion in 1972, the towers of City National Plaza were the tallest buildings in the city for one year before being overtaken by Aon Center, and were the tallest twin towers in the world until the completion of the World Trade Center in New York City.

The towers are constructed of steel frames covered with polished panels of forest green granite and panes of bronze glass.

9. Figueroa at Wilshire – 717 ft

 Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

Completed in 1990, Figueroa at Wilshire, a one million-square-foot tower, rises 52 stories to an octagonal glass crown, establishing a bold architectural presence on the Los Angeles skyline. An expansive open-air plaza located at ground level features a 36-foot-high fire and water sculpture entitled L.A. Prime Matter, by California artist Eric Orr. Hines served as development and property manager for the tower, then in September 1999 purchased Figueroa at Wilshire. The building was sold in 2005.

Figueroa at Wilshire, formerly Sanwa Bank Plaza, is a 53-storey, 218.5 m (717 ft) skyscraper in Los Angeles, California, United States. It is the eighth-tallest building in Los Angeles. It was designed by Albert C. Martin & Associates, and developed by Hines Interests Limited Partnership. It won the Rose Award for "Outstanding New Office Building" in 1991. The tower was constructed from 1988 to 1990 on the site of the former St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral.

8. Wells Fargo Center – 723 ft

 Wikipedia
Wikipedia

Now known as Wells Fargo Center, the complex at 333 South Grand was designed by the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Although the design of the complex is based on the conventional ground plan of two towers flanking a smaller building (like the earlier ARCO Towers), the architects put a twist on Corporate International "glass box" design by giving these towers parallelogram-shaped bases with sharp angles soaring into the sky.

The towers and central building are clad in light reddish-brown granite, signifying the beginning of the movement away from black, grey, and silver as the color of choice for corporate high-rises. All three buildings are linked by a plaza/promenade that is punctuated by trees, benches, and large sculpture.

The low building between the towers houses shopping and dining areas. The interior is atrium-style, designed by noted landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, who also designed the Bunker Hill Steps. Trees, fountains, and the use of exterior materials such as rough-hewn granite give the atrium a park-like atmosphere. Bronze nudes by Los Angeles-based artist Robert Graham adorn a network of pools and fountains.

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7. 777 Tower – 725 ft

 Wikipedia
Wikipedia

The 777 Tower, rising from the corner of South Figueroa and West Eighth Streets, is the seventh-tallest high rise in Los Angeles and by all rights should look like a hulking mass of a building. Instead, it is a light and graceful tower of glass and off-white steel, effortlessly piercing the downtown skyline with subtle articulation and detail.

It epitomizes the Postmodern use of a stretched skin style with reimagined classical details in a simple and elegant design. The tower is bowed on the east and west sides, and the piers between windows are wider at the center of these elevations than at the edges, emphasizing the curves and accentuating the vertical force of the design. Each pier, acting as an exaggerated mullion between windows, is made of a pair of round semi-cylinders divided by a sharp rectangular fin. The piers are nearly sculptural in nature and serve to manipulate the changing light, generating patterns of highlights and dark shadows along the length of the tower.

In 1990, Pelli said he tried to create “a poetry of precision” in the design, in homage to Southern California’s postwar tradition of high-tech industries like aerospace. The result is one of downtown Los Angeles’ most graceful high-rise office buildings.

6. Bank of America Plaza – 735 ft

 Wikipedia
Wikipedia

Bank of America Plaza, formerly Security Pacific Plaza, is a 55-story, 224.03 m (735.0 ft) class-A office skyscraper on Bunker Hill, Los Angeles, California. It was completed in 1974 with the headquarters of Security Pacific National Bank, Capital Group Companies and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton as its main tenants. The tower is the fifth tallest building in Los Angeles, and the 92nd-tallest building in the United States. In 2009 it had the highest assessed value of any office building in Los Angeles County. When it was constructed, Security Pacific Plaza was unique for Downtown Los Angeles, in that its four sides each faced true north, south, east and west.

From when it opened in 1974 until 1992, it bore the Security Pacific Bank logo. This logo was removed when Bank of America acquired Security Pacific Bank. Featured in several motion pictures, its plaza area was filmed as that of the adjacent "Peerless Building" to the Glass Tower in The Towering Inferno (which was set in San Francisco), as well as the lawyer's office in the film Pretty Woman, and as Tex Richman's office headquarters in The Muppets. The tower was also used in establishing shots as the headquarters for the fictional company Denver-Carrington in the 1991 prime time soap opera ‘’Dynasty’’. The epilogue of Night of the Comet was filmed in the plaza, the tower having been prominently in the background of numerous scenes earlier in the film.

The building site is situated on 4.21 acres (1.70 ha) that features a formal garden with over 200 trees and three 24 ft (7.3 m) waterfalls. In front of the main entrance is the 42-foot (13 m) "Four Arches" sculpture by Alexander Calder.

5. Gas Company Tower – 749 ft

Wikipedia
Wikipedia

Gas Company Tower is a 52-story, 749 ft (228.3 m) class-A office skyscraper on Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles, California. Located on the north side of Fifth Street between Olive Street and Grand Avenue, across from the Biltmore Hotel, the building serves as the headquarters for the Southern California Gas Company, which vacated its previous offices on Eighth- and Flower-streets in 1991, and is home to the Los Angeles offices of Arent Fox and Sidley Austin.

In 2014, Deloitte became the first tenant to have their logo affixed to the peak of the building which had been left plain since the building was completed. This giant accounting firm moved from nearby Two California Plaza, where it had been since 2000.

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4. Two California Plaza – 750 ft

 Wikipedia
Wikipedia

Two California Plaza is a 750-foot (230 m) skyscraper in the Bunker Hill District of downtown Los Angeles, California. The tower is part of the California Plaza project, consisting of two unique skyscrapers, One California Plaza and Two California Plaza. The Plaza is also home to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), Colburn School of Performing Arts, the Los Angeles Omni Hotel, and a 1.5-acre (0.61 ha) water court.

Completed in 1992 by Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company, Two California Plaza has 1.329 million sq ft (123,500 m2) of office space. The towers were designed by Arthur Erickson Architects and named BOMA Building of the Year in 1997 and 2001.

California Plaza was a ten-year, US$1.2 billion project. Started in 1983, the Two California Plaza tower was completed in 1992 during a significant slump in the downtown Los Angeles real estate market. The tower opened with only 30 percent of its space leased and overall vacancy rates in downtown office space neared 25 percent. It was nearly 10 years before significant tall buildings were completed again in downtown Los Angeles.

California Plaza was originally planned to include 3 high rise tower office buildings instead of the two completed. Three California Plaza at 65 floors, was planned for a site just north of 4th St., directly across Olive St. from California Plaza's first two office highrises and was planned to house the Metropolitan Water District's permanent headquarters.

3. Aon Center – 858 ft

 Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times

When this sixty-two-story tower opened in 1973 as United California Bank, it soared above downtown as the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi River. It now ranks third in the city after the Wilshire Grand Center (2017) and the U.S. Bank Tower (1989).

Dismissed decades ago as a nondescript vertical shaft by critics David Gebhard and Robert Winter, the Charles Luckman-designed building has come into its own as one of L.A.'s most recognizable skyscrapers.

Catastrophe was averted on May 4, 1988 when a fire broke out at night on the twelfth floor of what was known then as the First Interstate Bank tower.

While live television beamed frightening pictures of flames climbing toward workers trapped on upper floors, firefighters braced for the possibility of losing the entire building. Though one person perished, the firefighters managed to contain the damage to five floors, saving many other lives.

2. U.S. Bank Tower – 1,081 ft

 Los Angeles Business Journal
Los Angeles Business Journal

This seventy-three-story skyscraper was originally known as the Library Tower because of its close association – both physical and historical – with the 1926 Central Library across the street.

The building was developed by Maguire Partners, who purchased the air rights above the historic library to add more height to the tower. This purchase also helped prevent the demolition of the library, helping to finance its rehabilitation and expansion.

Designed by Henry N. Cobb of the internationally celebrated firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, the building was specifically designed to complement and not overpower the library. Based on concentric geometries, one circular and the other composed of right angles, the round high-rise features four soaring setbacks leading to a glass crown that shines like a beacon at night.

Light-colored cladding and bright-green glass contrast sharply with surrounding structures in darker tones. Its richness of materials, stylized Art Deco imagery, and elegant ornamentation embody the variety and vitality of corporate design in the late twentieth century.

1. Wilshire Grand Center - 1,100 ft

 Wikipedia
Wikipedia

Wilshire Grand Center is a 1,100-foot (335.3 m) skyscraper in the Financial District of Downtown Los Angeles, California, occupying the entire city block between Wilshire Blvd. and 7th, Figueroa, and Francisco streets. Completed in 2017, it is the tallest building west of Chicago. Its height surpasses L.A.'s U.S. Bank Tower by 82 ft (25 m).

The building is part of a mixed-use hotel, retail, observation decks, shopping mall, and office complex. The development of the complex is estimated to cost $1.2 billion. The Wilshire Grand Center includes 67,000 square feet (6,225 m2) of retail, 677,000 square feet (62,895 m2) of Class A office space, and the 889-room InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown. The hotel features a 70th floor Sky Lobby, state-of-the-art fitness center, expansive pool deck and several restaurants including a high-end steakhouse and Spire 73 – the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere.

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