Photos inside One Wilshire


Said to be the most interconnected space in the world and the most expensive real estate in North America, the “Meet Me Room” (a telco industry term) is the heart of One Wilshire. Here the primary fiber optic cables are routed, split, and shared. Because of the presence of so many telcos in this room and the ability to freely interconnect between them, rackspace here becomes extremely valuable. For comparison, the average price for office space in downtown Los Angeles is $1.75 per square foot per month. At the Meet Me Room, $250 per square foot would be a bargain.


A ceiling detail in one of the many "Meet-Me-Rooms" inside of One Wilshire


Some 1,800 known conduits contain the fiber optic cables that flow through the building’s stairwells and vertical utility corridors, called “risers.” Cable connects the commercial telco tenants on floors 5 through 29 to the 4th floor Meet Me Room, and to a new, “wireless” Meet Me Room constructed on the 30th floor.


Whenever a permit is pulled by a city contractor for any underground repairs outside One Wilshire, the various telco companies with cable in the area come out and paint the cable routes on the asphalt, creating a visible graphic of the complexity of what lies just under the surface.


Computers generate a lot of heat, and maintaining a stable, cool temperature and a low humidity is essential in telco hotels, so tenants sometimes demand to install their own cooling systems to safeguard their equipment. At One Wilshire, these units are installed primarily on the third floor roof. A new closed loop cooling system has been installed on the 30th floor roof.


As tenants’ needs change, cables can go unused. Cable mining is performed to thin out the obsolete cables and future congestion is alleviated through the installation of dedicated new ducts.


Power is supplied by DWP, but in the event of a blackout, the building’s five generators will kick in. It takes the generators three seconds to start up and stabilize. During this brief period, the entire building runs on batteries. There are 11,000 gallons of diesel stored on site, enough to run the generators for 24 hours before being refueled.


On the roof, microwave antennas link up One Wilshire to transmission towers located around the city. Though fiber’s higher capacity has given it dominance over microwave at One Wilshire, microwave’s relatively low cost over long distances continues to make it economical for some applications. The roof’s clear line of sight to the south, west, and to other high-rises, along with the ability to interface with the fiber inside, continues to make One Wilshire an attractive location for microwave-based transmission.


Much can be learned about a building’s function by examining its roof. The existence of telco hotels in the region around One Wilshire is indicated by the presence of new and extensive cooling units on the roofs of adjacent buildings, many of which were nearly vacant until the telco companies moved in.


One Wilshire is located near SBC/Pacbell’s central switching station at 400 S. Grand, with its towering, now nearly obsolete microwave antenna. With deregulation looming in the 1980s, Pacific Bell banned competitors from their central switching station. Long distance carrier MCI thus mounted its own microwave station on the roof of One Wilshire, at the time one of the tallest buildings in downtown. And so began One Wilshire’s importance as a telcom site.


The main fiber optic cables connecting One Wilshire to the world enter the building from under the street through closets in the walls of the building’s parking garage. Given the importance of the building to the global communications network, access to the parking garage is controlled, and the building is said to be monitored continuously by federal security officials.

Source: Center for Land Use Interpretation: