Ever wonder why the skyline of Los Angeles is peppered with flat top skyscrapers? Or for that matter, why does such a global cosmopolitan city have so relatively few skyscrapers dotting its cityscape, the majority residing in downtown LA?
The answer lies in a section of the Los Angeles Municipal Code introduced in 1974 – Sec. 57.118.12 – “Emergency Helicopter Landing Facility.” The code stipulates that “Each building shall have a rooftop emergency helicopter landing facility in a location approved by the Chief.” The text also dictates that the helipads measure 50′x50′ in addition to a 25′ safety buffer. The resulting skyline thus far has been dominated by flat roof skyscrapers that would only make it through the planning process if in strict accordance with this code. However, a newly introduced proposal called the Hollywood Community Plan would allow skyscrapers to be constructed along the subway served “Hollywood Corridor.” In lieu of embarking on a plan that would surely result in more box type towers, an amendment has been introduced into the plan that would exempt skyscrapers within the corridor from having to conform to Sec. 57.118.12 helipad requirements. More After the break.
Los Angeles Planning Commissioner Michael K. Woo has played an influential part in the proposal process to alleviate the stringent demands of the helipad portion of the code. It undoubtedly helps that Woo is part of the design community – Dean of the College of Environmental Design at Cal Poly Pomona in addition to being a former L.A. City Councilmember. While the plan is strictly regarding Hollywood, it is a positive step forward in allowing architects the freedom to design iconic skyscrapers that can explore tapered tops such as the Chrysler Building in New York, Transamerica pyramid in San Francisco, or LA’s own City Hall.