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First Interstate World Center (Library Tower)
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Vital Statistics:
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Completion Date: 1990
Cost: $350 million
Height: 1,018 feet
Stories: 75
Materials: Concrete, steel
Facing Materials: Granite, glass
Engineer(s): CBM Engineers

The First Interstate World Center exists today for one reason: its neighbor, the Los Angeles Central Library, found itself in deep trouble. Ravaged by fire in 1986, the library was one step away from the wrecking ball when an urban development team stepped in. The team bought the ailing structure, restoring the library and building a 75-story skyscraper adjacent to it.

Originally called the Library Tower, the name soon changed when First Interstate Bancorp negotiated to occupy a portion of the building in 1990 in exchange for having it renamed. Just six years later, the skyscraper reverted to its former name when First Interstate Bancorp was taken over by another local bank.

Located just 26 miles from the San Andreas Fault, the skyscraper was built to withstand the "Big One," an earthquake the magnitude of 8.3 or bigger on the Richter scale. The skyscraper's massively reinforced central core and lighter perimeter columns form a framework flexible enough to resist violent side-to-side shaking, but stiff enough to resist the enormous wind forces that affect high-rise buildings.


Here's how this skyscraper stacks up against the biggest skyscrapers in the world.
(height, in feet)

Chart showing the relative size of the biggest skyscrapers in the world First Interstate World Center (Library Tower)
1,018'

Fast Facts:
  • The First Interstate World Center was the first building to be zapped by alien missiles in the 1997 sci-fi thriller "Independence Day."
  • It is the tallest building ever constructed in a major earthquake zone. It is also the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.
  • When First Interstate Bancorp hoisted its logo (four brightly lit gold-leaf "I"s) to the crown of the tower in 1990, the Los Angeles Downtown News received one of the largest outpourings of letters in its history, all expressing disgust for the bright logo. The sign was removed in 1997.

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