Perhaps the most inter-connected floorspace in the world, and among the most expensive real estate in North America, the "Meet Me Room" (a telco industry term) is the heart of One Wilshire. It is where the primary fiber optic cables are routed, split, and shared, and, due to the access to so many major telco cables in the room, rackspace is of high value. If it were office space, $250 per square foot per month would be a bargain in the Meet Me Room. The average price for office space in downtown Los Angeles is $1.75 per square foot per month.
The 4th Floor
The Meet Me Room is located on the fourth floor of One Wilshire. As it was originally designed for the building's mechanical systems, this floor has a large carrying capacity that is required for the heavy equipment of the MMR. The fourth floor also has most of the HVAC blowers and electrical generators for the building, systems that were shrunk to make more room for valuable telco space.
Surface Cable Map
Whenever a permit is pulled by a contractor for any underground repairs outside One Wilshire, the various telco companies with cable in the area come cut and paint the cable routes on the asphalt, creating a visible graphic of the complexity of the cable that lies out of sight, just below street level.
Point of Entry
The main fiber optic cables connecting One Wilshire to the world enter the building from under the street, into closets in the walls of the building's parking garage. Given the importance of the building to the global communications network, access to the parking garage is controlled, and the building is monitored by federal security officials.
Some 1,800 known conduits contain the fiber optic cables that flow through the building's stairwells and vertical utility corridors, called "risers." Cable connects the commercial telco tenants on floors 5 through 29 to the 4th floor Meet Me Room, and to a new, "wireless" Meet Me Room constructed on the 30th floor.
As tenants' needs change, cables can go unused. Cable mining is performed to thin out the obsolete cables and future congestion is alleviated through the installation of dedicated new ducts.
Power is supplied by DWP, but in the event of a blackout, the building's five generators will kick in. It takes the generators three seconds to start up and stabilize. During this brief period, the entire building runs on batteries. There are 11,000 gallons of diesel stored on site, enough to run the generators for 24 hours before being refueled.
Computers generate a lot of heat, and maintaining a stable, cool temperature and a low humidity is essential in telco hotels, where tenants sometimes demand to install their own cooling systems to safeguard their equipment. At One Wilshire, these units are installed primarily on the third floor roof. A new closed loop cooling system has been installed on the 30th floor roof.
On the roof, microwave antennas link up One Wilshire to transmission towers located around the city. Though fiber's higher capacity has given it dominance over microwave at One Wilshire, microwave's relatively low cost over long distances still make it economical for some applications. The roof's clear line of sight to the south, west, and to the other high-rises, along with the ability to interface with the fiber inside, continues to make One Wilshire an attractive location for microwave-based transmission.
Reading a Roof
Much can be learned about a building's function by examining its roof. The existence of telco hotels in the region around One Wilshire is indicated by the presence of new and extensive cooling units on the roofs of adjacent buildings, many of which were nearly vacant until the telco companies moved in.
Pacific Bell Hub
One Wilshire is located near SBC/Pacbell's central switching station at 400 S. Grand, with its towering, now nearly obsolete, microwave antenna. With deregulation looming in the 1980s, Pacific Bell banned competitors from the central switching station. Long distance carrier MCI thus mounted its own microwave station on the roof of One Wilshire, at the time one of the tallest buildings with good lines of sight in downtown. And so began One Wilshire's importance as a telcom site.