Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in March 2016.
Spanning canyons, rivers and urban skylines at dizzying heights, glass-bottom walkways are the it thing in the knee-buckling, stomach-churning, panic attack-inducing world of thrill tourism. Attendance figures on the decline? Just add a see-through architectural element and watch 'em skyrocket.
However, the rising popularity — popularity that I, as a non-masochist and moderate acrophobic, have difficulty wrapping my head around — of glass-bottom walkways, bridges and observation platforms have prompted some companies to take things a step further …
Say hello — or hell no! — to the glass skyscraper slide.
At roughly 1,000 feet above downtown Los Angeles is Skyslide, a brand new 46-foot-long fully enclosed glass chute that extends from the 70th to the 69th floor along the exterior (yes, the exterior) of the U.S. Bank Tower. Completed in 1989, the 72-story U.S. Bank Tower — previously known as the Library Tower — is the tallest high-rise west of the Mississippi at 1,018 feet. The landmark tower was designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, the New York-based architecture firm founded by legendary (and still active at 97!) Chinese American architect, I.M. Pei.
Those who wish to subject themselves to such an experience will need to cough up at least $28 to access both the slide and OUE Skyspace LA, an open-air observation deck described as the "premiere destination for panoramic, 360-degree views of Los Angeles." The observation deck itself — mercifully not glass-bottomed — is located on the 69th floor. A cocktail bar is also set to open on the tower's 70th floor, which I suppose is helpful for patrons in need of some serious liquid courage before propelling themselves down the side of California's tallest skyscraper in a 4-foot-wide glass slide.
Said glass, in case you were wondering, is 1.25-inches thick.
Those with weaker constitutions may want to limit themselves to the new indoor Digital Interactive Level, which will be located on the tower's 54th floor.
Spectacular views and potentially vomit-slicked glass slides aside, OUE Skyspace LA, a singular experience that bills itself as the "ideal family-friendly attraction, perfect for all ages," is impressive in that it joins the ranks of mega-vertiginous public observation decks, even topping the observation decks found at the Space Needle (502 feet) and the Eiffel Tower (902 feet). There are, however, a decent handful of observation decks that reach even higher including Chicago's Willis Tower (1,345 feet), the Empire State Building (1,225), the CN Tower (1,465 feet) and, gulp, Burj Khafila in Dubai (1,821 feet).
And as I wrote previously, Italian architecture studio Carlo Ratti Associati was recently commissioned by an undisclosed client to design an observation deck to end all observation decks. Dubbed The Mile, the observation deck-topped structure measures just that: 1 mile (5,280 feet).
As for OUE Skyspace LA, the Los Angeles Times reports that it will serve as the pulse-raising, tourist-snaring centerpiece of a $50 million makeover at the U.S. Bank Tower. Singapore-based property group OUE Ltd. (Overseas Union Empire Limited) purchased the glass crown-topped edifice in 2013 with the aim to attract new tenants and breathe new life into the nearly 30-year-old building which had, prior to the acquisition, experienced declining occupancy rates.
While a sky-high tourist attraction operated by Legends, the same entertainment firm that manages the observation deck at One World Trade Center, may not necessarily attract commercial tenants to the revived U.S. Bank Tower, other renovations and new additions at the building have helped up its hip factor while attracting young firms on the hunt for distinctive DTLA digs.
Via [LA Times]