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How the Wilshire Grand Will Stay Upright in a Major Earthquake

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When you spend $1 billion to build a 73-story building in the heart of Downtown, you're not going to cut corners on earthquake safety measures, especially when the nearest fault is less than a half-mile away and capable of sending a magnitude 6.4 your way. (At least we'd hope you wouldn't!) "The science is so good now on [high-rises] in seismically active areas, it's really a no-brainer today," AC Martin head Chris Martin (whose firm is designing the Wilshire Grand skyscraper, set to become the West Coast's tallest tower when it opens in 2017). Great: So the Wilshire Grand is prepared for an earthquake, be it a Northridge-sized temblors or the Big One itself, but how did it get that way? There are six elements that'll keep the Wilshire Grand upright and in one piece in the event of a whole lot of shakin':

-- The WG's garage and plaza levels will be made up of five levels of 13-inch-thick concrete floors that will work to transfer "lateral loads" like seismic activity or Santa Ana winds to the walls or frames.
-- The building's core, which will hold the elevators and staircases, will have four-foot-thick walls and hold "steel-plate box columns" filled with concrete.
-- There are 10 columns linked to the building's central core by diagonal braces that work like structural shock absorbers to absorb the energy that an earthquake might produce.
-- Before the 17.5-foot foundation was in the ground (setting records for the longest continuous pour), a digital version of the building was put through a battery of tests simulating earthquakes past and in the possible future.
-- They've tested the design of the WG for all the worst, most insane doomsday situations—no matter how statistically unlikely they are to actually occur—including one in which Santa Ana winds rage during a huge seismic shakedown.
-- Like all of today's towering high-rises, the Wilshire Grand has been engineered to surf the rollicking, multi-directional movements of the ground during a 'quake, which serves to distribute the energy throughout the building.
· Preparing the Wilshire Grand for a Big Earthquake [Downtown News]
· Wilshire Grand [Curbed LA]

Wilshire Grand

930 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90017 Visit Website