The US Bank Tower in Downtown Los Angeles is not only the tallest building in town – and west of the Mississippi – but now it is also the only skyscraper around with a thrilling, exterior slide 1,000 ft above the ground.
The 47,300-sq-ft Skyspace LA project, which opened June 25, is highlighted by California’s highest open-air observation deck, and an exterior glass slide between the 70th and 69th floor. Located 1,000 ft above the city, Skyspace LA offers 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and much of Los Angeles County. From the decks I could see Catalina Island, the San Gabriel Mountains, Dodger Stadium, the Hollywood sign, and much more.
The 45-ft-long super slide was designed by M. Ludvik & Co., an engineering firm from New York that specializes in high-strength glass. For this project they used stainless steel and 1.5-inch-thick triple-laminated hurricane glass. It may sound thin, but it is rated to hold 7,000 lbs.
Visitors enter the cubed opening of the all-glass slide on the 70th floor and slide for four seconds down to the 69th. To begin, they sit on a small carpet and inch forward through what looks like an airport baggage scanner. When I took the plunge I tried not to look straight down, as 1,000 ft up can be pretty scary. But I made it and it was definitely worth the hype.
Besides the slide, Skyspace LA also consists of two, 2,500 sq-ft observation decks and modern interiors across four levels, including an outdoor terrace on the 69th floor, an elevator transfer floor and a lobby area. This portion of the project was created by world-famous architecture firm Gensler.
During my Skyspace LA visit I met a couple Gensler team members, who gave me a little background on the attraction. John Adams, project principal for Gensler, told me that with this new creation, Angelinos can now get a vantage point of LA that was previously reserved only for executives on the top floors of the city’s tallest building. “This project takes a mono-functional office building and creates something that is not just for work, but is also for play and a different kind of experience,” says Adams.
Audrey Wu, Gensler project architect, told me that to fully take advantage of the views, they designed an infinity edge for the roof terraces “so you have the sensation of the edge just dropping off and you are just separated by a plane of glass with 1,000 ft below you.” The edges of observation terraces are lined with seven-ft high low-iron glass balustrades that visually disappear. Similar to the slide, only a plane of glass separate visitors from the 1,000-ft drop.
As part of their work, Gensler also redesigned the building’s 54th floor with an infinity mirror floor “opening,” and a giant picture wall that takes photos of guests and pixelates them into a dissolving, “Star Trek” like image.
Another architectural highlight is the Monumental Stair on floor 69. This gravity-defying showpiece features a custom center stringer, triple cantilevers, floating treads made of 1″ think steel plates and Italian quartzite and low-iron glass guardrails cantilevered off the sides of the treads with high-strength blackened stainless steel.
The US Bank Tower, which was built in 1989, is currently the tallest building around, but next year the new $1 billion Wilshire Grand mixed-use hotel and office project will surpass it in overall height and rise to 1,100 ft. The Wilshire tower will take the “tallest title” thanks to a distinctive architectural spire at the top, but as Wu informed me, the US Bank Tower will still have the highest occupiable floor.
Skyspace LA is at the top of the US Bank Tower in Downtown LA, at 633 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, 90071. Admission starts at $19 for entry to the observation decks and the four levels of Skyspace. To ride the slide, a combo adult ticket is $33. All tickets are timed and available in 30 min intervals. For more info, visit: www.skyspace-la.com or call 213.514.8683.
Watch this short video about Skyspace LA: