The new tallest building on the West Coast looks like a giant lightsaber


wilshire tower los angeles la

Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Wilshire Grand Tower is new the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

For all the buzz around Salesforce's massive skyscraper under construction in San Francisco - which will cost an estimated $1 billion to build - the tower can't compete with a new pinnacle to the south.

Wilshire Grand Center in Los Angeles is now the tallest building on the West Coast, edging out Salesforce Tower by a mere 30 feet. It rises 73 stories (compared to Salesforce's 61) and marks the center of a rapidly developing downtown that's poised to become the "Times Square of the West."

Located halfway between the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Staples Center, the Wilshire Grand features a glittering spire that rises above the LA skyline. But what might stand out to residents more than the building's height is its lightsaber-esque, light-up display.

Colorful LED lights run two and a half miles up the tower's spine and over its sail-shaped top. From a distance, the building looks like a comically large lightsaber.

Nearly a fifth of a mile up in the sky, two massive LED displays stretch 42 feet by 60 feet atop the building. The screens contain 250 million pixels - each no bigger than a pea, according to the Los Angeles Times - capable of displaying messages that can be read from across the city.


The tower will most often flash the logo for Korean Airlines, which owns the building, and the InterContinental Hotel, a prominent tenant. Advertisers can also pay to place elaborate messages on that precious real estate in the sky.

wilshire grand central

AC Martin

A rendering shows the Korean Airlines logo glittering atop the Wilshire Grand Central.

While the neon lights might not look all that extraordinary in New York City, they're a big deal in LA. The building's developers lobbied the Los Angeles City Council in 2011 to create a one-block district that would allow digital billboards atop buildings. In spite of critics who argued the brightly lit images would create an eyesore, the council signed off the proposal.

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