The Wilshire Grand Center in downtown Los Angeles has been an attention-getting project from the very beginning. As construction got underway, 21,200 cubic yards of concrete was poured at the site, setting a Guinness World Record for concrete in one continuous pour. By the time construction was completed it was 1,100 feet (335.3 m) tall, the United States’ tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

Original rendering showing the louver concept.

Naturally the Wilshire Grand Center’s
architectural firm, AC Martin, had something extra special in mind for solar
control on the first floor, and in the Hotel Intercontinental Los Angeles
Downtown’s “Sky Lobby” between the 72nd and 70th floors.

AC Martin’s design incorporated
large scale venetian blinds, similar to systems used in the past on several
buildings including Sony Berlin and Bayer’s headquarters in Leverkusen. For the
Wilshire Grand project, however, AC Martin wanted louvers with more substance and
greater presence than is typical. Since the louver systems are such a key
building feature, their appearance and function were particularly important to
the design team. That meant using extruded aluminum louvers, instead of the
usual formed sheet aluminum louvers.

Moving to extruded louvers significantly increased the
system weight, so a completely new drive mechanism had to be designed to meet
the project requirements. In addition, integrating the systems with the
building structure required different drive mechanisms for different parts of
the building to address specific conditions and constraints.

AC Martin drew the product they wanted into their project
rendering and during the bid phase of the project, Draper developed initial
designs based on those drawings and produced 3D prints of louver profiles and
connection details. Once Draper was awarded the project, our solar control
solutions engineering team further developed the design and a prototype was
designed, manufactured, assembled, and tested at Draper’s Spiceland, Indiana, factory.
This prototype allowed Draper to better understand key elements of the system
and refine various details, such as louver connections and the attachment of
the stainless steel lift tapes to the bottom louver.

The prototype also provided a better understanding of the
scale and appearance of the system. After working with the prototype, AC Martin
and the construction manager, Turner, requested several changes, including a
reduction in the number of lift tapes and tilt cables. Additionally, the
prototype allowed Draper and the installing dealer to dial in on how the
systems could be shipped and installed on site.

For those systems installed inside a pocket, Draper produced
a custom two-motor head rail with one motor to raise and lower the louvers and
a second one to provide the tilt function. Draper worked closely with a motor
manufacturer to develop a special tubular motor with enough torque and a slow enough
speed to provide a controlled rotation of the louvers. For locations where the
systems are not installed in pockets, Draper installed a different drive
mechanism with a remote raise/lower motor inside a horizontal beam, while an
actuator provides the tilt function.

The majority of the systems on the
project have 12” louvers, although in a number of sky lobby areas 6” louvers
provide a different aesthetic.

For more information on Draper’s solar control solutions, click here.

Visit here to learn about the Wilshire Grand Center, part of a mixed-use hotel, retail, observation decks, shopping malls, and office complex.

Click here to download a PDF copy of this case study.

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