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The Martin Family and Wilshire Grand!

For many years, Los Angeles City Hall was the tallest building in the city. Now a new tower, Wilshire Grand Center, is taking that title, at 1,099 feet. The architecture firm A.C. Martin designed both…

For many years, Los Angeles City Hall was the tallest building in the city. Now a new tower, Wilshire Grand Center, is taking that title, at 1,099 feet.

The architecture firm A.C. Martin designed both buildings. DnA visited Wilshire Grand with project manager Chris Martin and learned from his cousin, project architect David Martin, about new paths for the family behind the veteran firm.

“Quite frankly, the building theme is California itself. If you look at the exterior of this building, think about the Sierras. Think about Yosemite Valley,” said Chris Martin, CEO and Chairman of A.C. Martin Partners, the architectural firm overseeing the design and construction of Wilshire Grand.

Martin pointed to the roof of the tower, which features a soaring glass sail.

Architect Chris Martin talks to DnA's Frances Anderton in the elevator heading to the 70th floor of Wilshire Grand. Photo by Avishay Artsy.
Architect Chris Martin talks to DnA’s Frances Anderton in the elevator heading to the 70th floor of Wilshire Grand. Photo by Avishay Artsy.

“If you look at the top of the building, it’s got a curve to it, a very subtle curve, and then a sheer drop, that is Half Dome,” he said. “The interior design is all California inspiration. If you see the carpet, you’ll think it’s a beautiful pattern. And then you’ll realize that’s an agricultural grid of the San Joaquin Valley.”

Wilshire Grand Center is a luxury hotel and office tower owned by Korean Air. It is set to open this coming spring. The project manager Chris Martin and his cousin David Martin, the design principal, are grandsons of Albert C Martin Senior, who founded the firm of A.C. Martin over a century ago. That firm, later helmed by his son Albert Junior, designed some of this city’s signature buildings, such as the Department of Water and Power building, the May Company Building, St. Basil Catholic Church, City National Plaza (originally named ARCO Plaza), and together with John Parkinson and John Austin, the firm also built the structure that for 36 years was the tallest in LA: City Hall.

Now the cousins are on new paths and the old family firm is going through some changes. But right now, A.C. Martin is putting itself back on the map with this new building that has attracted a lot of superlatives, starting in the ground. The world’s largest single concrete pour is the foundation of this building. It is about two thirds of the size of a football field.

The building has also attained bragging rights as the tallest building west of the Mississippi. That’s due to a spire of almost 300 feet that is attached to the glass sail at the top of the structure, taking the structure higher than the U.S. Bank Tower, hitherto LA’s tallest building.

The design principal, David Martin, never intended it to be the tallest. In fact he says, since 9/11 there is less enthusiasm to be the tallest. He says the spire was part of an aesthetic concept for the design which was permissible since the city got rid of the rule that mandated all LA skyscrapers have helipads on their roofs.

Read More: http://blogs.kcrw.com/dna/meet-the-family-building-wilshire-grand

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