The Tallest building in Los Angeles gets an observatory

US Bank Tower is the tallest building in Los Angeles, it had always no observation deck for a long time since its open in 1989, people cannot surge onto the top of US Bank Tower like what depicted in the film Independence,now the situation is changed as a plan for a new observatory is in progress.
No observation deck was set in US Bank Tower before was because of that the designer didn’t put the tourism into consideration when they were designing it, what they were asked to do was to design an office building that in the interests of tenants, the top floor which always functions as observatory in other buildings was also designed to be served as the office space, then for a long time it remains being office without the renovation, the owner might don’t want to put efforts to make over the floors even they once come up with this sort of plan, or might some tenants do not want to share the building with tourists.
This finally get changed after the building acquired by the new owner in 2013.
Designed by Pei Cobb Freed, an architecture firm led by Starchitect IM Pei, US Bank Tower is the tallest building in Los Angeles and also seen as the icon of the city as it has been shown in numerous films, but it’s not very welcomed by tenants.
The reason is its cylindrical shape leads to low utilization rate, the former owner MPG cannot gain much profit from the building, so they decided to sell the building. In 2013, Singapore based group Overseas Union Enterprise(OUE)acquired the tower by 370 million dollars to become the new owner of US Bank Tower.
To solve the problem of low occupancy rate, in 2014 OUE announced a plan in which investing 50 million to renovate the tower. The main purpose of the plan is to transform the upper floors into observatories and restaurants.

observation deck of US Bank Tower
The newly built observation deck of US Bank Tower

The observation deck will be named LA Skyspace, set to be operated by the same firm which operates One World Observatory in One World Trade Center. Overseas Union Enterprise is counting on selling the tickets to increase the profit, the standard price of a visit costs 25 dollars, a bit expensive in comparison with the skydeck on Willis Tower, which costs only 19.5 dollars, that observation deck situated at a height much higher than the one of US Bank Tower, but it seems still rational when comparing it with Empire State Building and One World Trade Center, both of these two towers need 32 dollars for visitors to get to the viewing platform. LA Skyspace is a double-level observation deck, and featuring open-air space while most other observation decks have no outdoor terrace, hence setting the price at 25 dollars is reasonable.
OUE estimates the observation deck could attract 500 thousand visitors a year, this number is not as much as the 3 million of Empire State Building and 1 million of Willis Tower, so the number of the visitors has the potential to increase.
US Bank Tower has a total of 72 floors, observation decks are set to be on 69th and 70th floor, 69th floor contains outdoor terrace, and the 71st floor is not used for observation but will be for a restaurant, named 71Above.
The uppermost floor 72nd floor will be continued to used as office for leasing.
And the rooftop remains the helipad, according to the local laws, every tower in downtown must has a helipad on the roof, and has a different number painted, the number painted on the helipad at the roof of US Bank Tower is 12, Currently the observation deck set upon the rooftop can be hardly found over the world. Maybe Rockefeller Center and Empire State Building are in this category, but Rockefeller Center is not a supertall and the real rooftop of Empire State Building is not 86th floor but at its 103rd floor which only open to celebrities. The original World Trade Center South Tower had a rooftop viewing platform, other than it there is really no more such kind of observation decks set on the roofs of supertall skyscrapers, the new One World Trade Center also set its observation deck inside the window façades.

The observation deck is scheduled to open in June 2016, the opening hours currently set to be 9 AM to 12 PM.
To meet the unprecedented traffic generated by the observation, the original lifts will be replaced by new high-speed double decked lifts, much more efficient than before.

Aside from US Bank Tower, the newly built Wilshire Grand Hotel hundreds meters away will also feature an observation deck and restaurants at the uppermost floors when open in 2017, but lower than US Bank Tower’s, the 335m tower contains a 40m long spire at the top, the actual roof height is below 300 meters.
Moreover, in March 2016, OUE decided to add a glass slide aside the observation floors, the slide is 14 meters long, once installed it will aslant connect the building’s 70th floor and 69th floor besides the curtain wall, allowing visitors rapidly get to the outdoor terrace on 69th floor from the indoor viewing platform on 70th floor, apparently people is not after the convenience but the stimulating experience of sliding in the air, however this will cost an extra 8 dollars.

Glass slide of the observatory

The glass slide is designed by San Francisco architecture firm Gensler, the glass of the slide is 10 centimeters thick, but with high transparency, allowing people to stay safe and feel like gliding in the air in the same time. It is not the first time that glass structures added upon the outer surface of façade of building. Willis Tower in Chicago has 3 protuberant glass structures installed on the west side façade of 103rd floor as an addition to the inner space of observation deck, the tourists could stand on the transparent floor looking down at the road that 412 meters below as like floating in the air.

Willis Tower observatory

US Bank Tower has long been the iconic building of Los Angeles, it always appears in a variety of films and TV series, if people see US Bank Tower in the film, then they will recognize the story takes place in Los Angeles. However, for many foreigners it is not as familiar as Empire State Building in New York, the owner OUE hopes the new observatory and glass slide could attract more tourists and improve the identity of the tower.

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