Iron Workers Local 416 Helps Set World Record in Los Angeles
Before a new world record could be established for the largest continuous concrete pour, members of Reinforcing Ironworkers Local Union 416 (Los Angeles) had to set the stage.
Nearly 7 million pounds of reinforcing steel needed to be placed and tied by ironworkers before any records could be broken. It would take 45 to 50 Local 416 ironworkers six weeks to ready the site of the new Wilshire Grand Center in downtown Los Angeles. Then, on a Saturday afternoon in mid-February, a record-setting 21,200 cubic yards of cement could be poured into 18-foot-deep rebar, setting the foundation for a high-rise like no other.
The aura of celebration was rich that day, as members of Local 416 joined other union building and construction trades workers for a record-breaking continuous concrete pour into the base of the 73-story Wilshire Grand skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles.
“It makes me proud to be in charge of the men and women of 416 to make this important pour,” said Eric Whitten, general field superintendent. “This is a huge step for the resurgence of work downtown. It’s a historic project—the tallest building on the west coast.”
The $1 billion building will break a record, too, becoming the tallest tower west of the Mississippi at 1,100 feet. The mixed-use tower featuring a façade of dramatically lit glass will have 900 guest rooms, conference areas, 400,000-square-feet of Class A office space and more than 45,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space.
Wilshire Grand architect David Martin said it takes the best workers available to make a vision like the Wilshire Grand a reality. “Human beings want to reach for the sky—to inspire. Think of the pyramids, the castles and cathedrals of Europe. This is that kind of building.”
Local 416 Business Agent Albert Garcia thanked Martin personally for his remarks and gave him an Iron Workers pin. He noted that reinforcing ironworkers play such a big role on projects, yet when the buildings are completed their work is not seen again.
“What we do never gets seen by the public. I wish sometimes the engineers would make a concrete that’s clear.”
The 20-hour record pour posed complex challenges and required an aggressive plan.
“It’s 7.2 million pounds of rebar. That could take two years. But we planned and organized and accomplished what we needed in two months,” said Gary Koscielak, who was the superintendent for Gerdau Reinforcing Steel West throughout the time of the pour. “Union labor offers a level of commitment and knowledge, so we can perform at a much higher level.”
The Wilshire Grand is being built under an all-union project labor agreement with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council. It’s generating thousands of jobs for members of building trades affiliated local unions. The project began with demolition of an existing building in fall 2012 and is expected to finish in 2016.
A host of dignitaries, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary Ron Miller, made speeches from a podium at the construction site. Eventually the large crowd, which included a Guinness World Records adjudicator, TV vans and international journalists, looked on as Chris Martin, CEO of architect and project manager AC Martin, exclaimed “Let it pour!” to the strains of the famous USC Trojan marching band.
Miller pointed to the all-union PLA as a crucial part of the Wilshire Grand’s success. “We are partnering with all of you, in the political arena and here on the jobsite, to build these projects safely, efficiently and to bring pride to all of us,” he said.
“Our building trades members bring the highest level of skill to the job. With four to five years of apprenticeship, constant classes to upgrade skills, and a work ethic second to none—if you’re going to shut down the streets for 48 hours, these are the people who will keep you on schedule.”
The job didn’t stop with the record-setting pour. Gerdau, a multi-national steel company, will supply another 20,000 tons of reinforcing steel to the project site over the next two years, providing many more man-hours for the Local 416 crew.
“It’s exciting that we are able to showcase our skills on this project, as well as keep many of our members working,” said Marco Frausto, business agent and president of Local 416. “This will be a point of pride for our members, and they will be sharing stories with their families for years about how ironworkers helped build this incredible skyscraper in Los Angeles.”
The steel used on the project is manufactured at the Gerdau steel mill in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and fabricated at the company’s reinforcing steel facility in San Bernardino, California.
The Wilshire Grand – which is being developed by the Hanjin Group that owns Korean Air – will be the first skyscraper constructed in the area in more than two decades. Mayor Garcetti thanked the developers and praised the building trades, with hundreds of affiliated local members working in shifts throughout the night.
“It was an incredible challenge, but we did it. Our ironworkers helped make history,” said Hart Keeble, financial secretary-treasurer and business manager of Local 416. “Our guys know what it takes to get the job done.”
Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar’s downtown district includes several large developments noted the creation of jobs. “This is a blessed day for construction, for our economy. The Wilshire Grand will be the centerpiece of LA.”
Several speakers said the Wilshire Grand represents an ambitious international business enterprise that will help secure LA’s reputation as a world capital. Korean Airlines Chairman Yang-Ho Cho said, “There is an energy and excitement emerging in LA. We’re cementing the bond between Korea and LA.”
State Assembly Speaker John Perez called the Wilshire Grand “another breathtaking addition to LA’s skyline, one that reflects the downtown of the 21st century, built from recycled materials and featuring state-of-the-art water and energy systems.”
State Sen. Kevin de Leon described union labor as the key to any economic recovery. “Working men and women are the barometer for our economy. When they’re working, we’re working.”
AC Martin’s Chris Martin praised the building as a landmark step in the resurgence of LA’s economy, saying, “Our doors are wide open for business.”