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Breaking the Record for the Largest Concrete Pour in the World

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New skyscrapers will do anything for attention—which is why an under-construction supertall in Los Angeles, soon to be the tallest building on the West Coast, is trying to break another record, too. Starting Saturday, construction crews will pump 21,200 cubic yards of concrete onto the Wilshire Grand site, which might make it the largest continuous foundation pour in the world.

The current U.S. record, according to McGraw-Hill's Engineering News Record, was set over a 24-hour period back in 1997 by the Venetian in Las Vegas, with a 21,000 cubic-yard foundation. Some sites claim that Abu Dhabi's Landmark Tower, with 20,927 cubic yards poured in 2007, is also the world's largest continuous pour. However, Guinness World Records—which doesn't, in fact, list any kind of concrete foundation pouring records on its site—will reportedly be there to verify that the Wilshire Grand beats the Venetian in total volume and that their flow remains continuous.


Thanks to L.A.'s plentiful concrete plants and available trucks, breaking the record should be no sweat. This is how the pour will work, according to KPCC:

  • 8 plants around Los Angeles will provide concrete throughout the day.
  • 180 concrete trucks will make multiple deliveries to the site.
  • At any given moment, 16 trucks will be unloading their concrete into the foundation simultaneously.
  • 2,100 truckloads of concrete will be poured into the foundation.
  • The foundation will hold 21,200 cubic yards of concrete weighing 82 million pounds when dry.
  • As it dries, concrete undergoes an exothermic reaction, meaning it heats up. It can reach temperatures above 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The crews will run 19 miles of refrigeration piping through the foundation to keep it cool so it won't crack.

To monitor the temperature, 24 sensors will be embedded throughout the foundation, making sure that everything cools correctly. The architects, A.C. Martin, also say that the one-time pour will actually improve structural integrity.

The 73-story building, designed with the architectural equivalent of a mohawk, is set to dramatically alter L.A.'s skyline, which has been dominated by the flat-topped U.S. Bank Tower since 1990. When it's completed in two years, the Wilshire Grand will be 1,100 feet tall (including spire), making it the tallest building in the U.S. west of Chicago.

The pour begins at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and the public can watch from a special viewing platform at 1000 Wilshire Boulevard. [KPCC]


Update: The record was indeed broken: "After about 2,000 truckloads and 20 hours of continuous pouring, workers had laid down more than 21,200 cubic yards of concrete that weighed about 84 million pounds, said Sean Rossall, a spokesman for the project." Here's a photo by BIMming It: