Downtown L.A.’s glass Skyslide gets the axe for U.S. Bank Tower renovation

Farewell, Nightmare Machine

Downtown L.A.’s glass Skyslide gets the axe for U.S. Bank Tower renovation

The outdoor viewing terrace at Skyspace, a short-lived observation deck complete with an enclosed external slide attraction at the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles. (vagueonthehow/ Flickr/ CC BY 2.0)

Well, that was fun and mostly terrifying while it lasted. Skyslide, a pulse-quickening attraction at Downtown Los Angeles’s U.S. Bank Tower where guests forked over $8 (on top of a $25 observation deck admission fee) to careen down a glass-enclosed chute affixed to the side of the second-tallest skyscraper in L.A., will not reopen after being shuttered to the public just ahead of the coronavirus pandemic. The public observation deck, Skyspace, will also not reopen.

Located 1,000 feet above the city, both attractions debuted in 2016 as part of an effort by the tower’s then-owner, Singapore-based OUE Limited, to bring a tourist-drawing, sky-high attraction to Downtown L.A. While Skyspace was more or less a traditional observation deck offering an outdoor terrace and sweeping panoramic views, Skyslide, a 45-foot-long appendage connecting the 70th floor to the 69th floor, added an additional level of abject terror to the affair.

Topping out at 73 stories, the glass crown-topped Postmodernist U.S. Bank Tower, also locally known as the Library Tower, was designed by Henry Cobb for Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Opening in 1989, it cost $350 million to build. OUE’s ownership of the landmark skyscraper was relatively short-lived: the company acquired the tower in 2013 for $367.5 million and invested $31 million in renovations, including the Gensler-led creation of Skyspace and Skyslide. In July 2020, Silverstein Properties purchased the tower for $450 million in what the Commercial Observer described as “one of the biggest pandemic-driven steals of 2020.”

The recently announced $60 million overhaul of the Tower completely will do away with Skyspace and its transparent slide feature. The once-public areas of the 69th and 70th floors will be reverted back into office space, as reported by the Associated Press.

As detailed by the Commercial Observer, other planned upgrades announced by Silverstein include a revamp of the main entrance and lobby and the addition of an amenity-driven shared tenant space on the 54th floor dubbed The Vista.

“Once completed, U.S. Bank Tower will sport a look and feel more in line with the world’s leading boutique hotels,” said Jeremy Moss, executive vice president of leasing at Silverstein Properties, in a statement. “Informed by hospitality design, our repositioning plans will transform all aspects of the building to create a workplace environment that meets the evolving needs of the modern workforce.”

“I also believe in the future of Downtown L.A. as a major creative and business hub,” added Lisa H. Silverstein, vice-chair of Silverstein Properties. “I have no doubt that once the pandemic is behind us, we will see the return of dynamic job growth, millennial and Gen Z population growth and residential migration into Downtown.”

The tower’s redesign is headed by New York-based design studio Jeffrey Beers International (JBI) with architecture firm A + I. Work. Work, including the removal of Skyslide, is slated to begin later this summer and wrap up by the end of 2022.