For those who haven’t noticed, the Los Angeles skyline consists of all flattop buildings. And it’s not just because they were totally boring in designing these towers; a fire code was instated in 1974 that said each building had to allow for helicopter landing space (and if you’ve been to Los Angeles you’d know helicopters were a more frequent thing than not throughout the day), meaning there wasn’t as much room for modernization of the cityscape. But now firefighters are examining new options inspired by what Deputy Fire Chief Mark Stormes calls a, “bunch of bright people with good ideas in the field of design and structural engineering […] [that will hopefully] do away with the perception that we aren’t willing to listen.”
Of course, safety measures will have to be considered primarily when exploring the alternatives; it’s likely there will have to be a compromise between the Los Angeles Fire Department and city officials, who did react to their proposition quite positively, though nothing has been stated official. Councilmember Jose Huizar said, “[p]erhaps the process of adopting a new fire code presents an opportunity for the LAFD to modernize its approach to construction and consider amending policies to provide alternatives to the helipad/heliport policy[.]”
The Fire Department does have a pretty favorable case: building high rises is an efficient use of resources, going along with a more broad paradigm shift in skyscraper construction and renovation. For example: in New York they’ve been improving the use of stairs for emergency evacuations such as the tragedies on 9/11, improving the overall evacuation time and making better use of design space.
I like that it’s been brought to the attention of the city to make room for experimentation in Los Angeles’ skyline and overall identity, because skyline’s flatness says nothing about the uniqueness scattered throughout the entire region. Which has me wondering: will we see more eclectic skyscrapers popping up in the near future resembling qualities of cities such as Dubai and San Francisco? Because if the city agrees on a compromise, it certainly seems favorable!