Serious construction is about to begin on something big in downtown Los Angeles: a building that when completed will be the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi. Called the Wilshire Grand Tower, it will feature more than 900 hotel rooms, offices and retail spaces. It will be topped by a sail-shaped glass pediment crown. Because of its height alone — 1,100 feet with a spire — the skyscraper is sure to become an L.A. architectural icon. The building’s grand opening is years away, but we recently got an opportunity to visit the construction site on the corner of Figueroa and Wilshire.

Workers call it "The Hole." It's the construction pit where workers are building the concrete and rebar foundation for what will eventually become the 1,100 foot-tall Wilshire Grand Tower in downtown L.A. The darker space is the "footprint for the tower. One challenge facing construction crews is building a skyscraper in the tight confines of downtown L.A where building material can't be stored in the immediate vicinity. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)

Workers call it “The Hole.” It’s the construction pit where workers are building the concrete and rebar foundation for what will eventually become the 1,100 foot-tall Wilshire Grand Tower in downtown L.A. The darker space is the “footprint” for the tower. One challenge facing construction crews is building a skyscraper in the tight confines of downtown L.A., where building material can’t be stored in the immediate vicinity and crews have to always be aware of not blocking traffic.  (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)

Some workers on the Wilshire Grand Project will spend the next two years helping to build the skyscraper. Although much has changed in how skyscrapers have been built over the past century, a lot of it still comes down to muscle, sweat and strong backs. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)

Some workers on the Wilshire Grand Project will spend the next two years helping to build the skyscraper. Although much has changed in how skyscrapers have been built over the past century, a lot of it still comes down to muscle, sweat and strong backs. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)

When done, the $1.1 billion Wilshire Grand Tower will soar 73 stories above the streets of downtown. Incorporating new safety features, it will be the first skyscraper built in L.A. that won't feature a rooftop helipad. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)

Here workers get ready for an important step in building the foundation for the building. Over one weekend, more than 2,100 truckloads of cement, weighing more than 82 million pounds, will be delivered to the site and poured. Construction crews hope to set a world record for the largest continuous concrete pour in history. To make sure the concrete cools and hardens evenly, crews are putting in miles of refrigeration pipes. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)

Across the street from the building site, tower builders have set up their offices and established a construction command post. To remind crews of scheduling targets in building the tower, there are countdown clocks in the offices. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)

Across the street from the building site, tower builders have set up their offices and established a construction command post. Countdown clocks are there to remind crews of scheduling targets in building the towers. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)

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At its top, the building will feature a sail-shaped glass pediment, which will be illuminated by LED lights in the evening. It’s the first modern skyscraper in Los Angeles which won’t have a flat top to accommodate a helipad.

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The finished skyscraper will rise 73 stories above Los Angeles and feature a 70th floor lobby and pool.

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