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High-rise light show set for L.A. skyline

The downtown event will mark completion of the 54-story JW Marriott-Ritz Carlton tower, the final project at L.A. Live.

January 13, 2010|By Roger Vincent
  • David Shulman, principal of Project Dynamics, oversees work at the 54-story tower. The light show will take place on the top 27 floors.
David Shulman, principal of Project Dynamics, oversees work at the 54-story… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

The latest addition to the downtown Los Angeles skyline is expected to debut with a big splash -- make that a big flash -- tonight, when lights in the city's newest high-rise snap on for the first time.

Owners of the 54-story Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott tower are rigging lights on the top 27 levels to flick on floor by floor in a rising wave to celebrate completion of the hotel, the last piece of the massive L.A. Live entertainment complex.

The attention-grabbing stunt will cost about $100,000; by no means a pittance but still a fraction of the $2.5-billion overall cost of L.A. Live, which sits next to Staples Center and is already home to Nokia Theatre and other attractions.

The flame-on at 7:30 p.m. will be part of a City of Hope charity gala honoring AEG President Tim Leiweke, who will be saluted by the tousle-haired singer Jon Bon Jovi, hockey star Luc Robitaille and comedian and ABC late-night TV show host Jimmy Kimmel, among others. The Marriott is set to open Feb. 15, and the Ritz-Carlton should follow in March.

Lighting the top floors of the bulging blade-shaped structure will take special effort, AEG spokesman Michael Roth said.

Those floors are mostly the Ritz-Carlton Residences, deluxe condominiums with access to room services and other amenities from the well-known hotel.

About 60% of the 224 units have buyers, Roth said, but for now condos are empty and dark, awaiting the selection of chandeliers and other lighting by their future owners. To achieve the desired light blast, AEG's hired crew from a special effects company has been laying cable and setting up theatrical lighting devices in every window on the east side.

The surge of electricity shouldn't overtax the city's power grid or cause an outage, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, because the hotel complex has its own industrial-grade power station.

"Industrial stations are designed to take their full load all at once," a DWP spokesman said.

Work on the 27-acre L.A. Live development started in 2006 with the construction of Nokia Theatre, which opened in 2008. Other elements of the 4-million-square-foot project at Olympic Boulevard and Figueroa Street include restaurants, an ESPN broadcast studio, the Grammy Museum and a Regal Cinemas complex.

The hotel complex, which will serve the nearby Los Angeles Convention Center, will have 1,000 rooms. Most of them will be in the Marriott. It will also have some of the largest ballrooms in the city, where tonight's charity event will be held.

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