Just in the nick of time to help the West Coast's future tallest tower, the Los Angeles Fire Department is beginning to relax the rules that have made our skyline so flat-topped and boring. The 73-story-tall Wilshire Grand--expected to open in late 2016--will be the first to benefit from a new LAFD policy allowing "modified helicopter-landing space" on its roof. Since 1958, all Los Angeles high-rises have been required to have a large, flat helipad on the roof (it's the only major American city to have that kind of requirement), which is one of the big reasons the Downtown skyline is so "meh." Instead of a huge helipad, the Wilshire Grand will have "additional safety features" including extra stairwells and reinforced elevators (for more on that kind of thing, and why helipads aren't all they're cracked up to be anyway, check out our 2010 story on the Pacific Design Center's Red Building). But the helilpad requirement has only been "relaxed" for now; Councilmember Jose Huizar's rep says it "will continue to evolve," and a press release calls it "an important first step in allowing newly designed towers with iconic rooflines and narrow roof and tower spires regularly seen in other big cities."
· LAFD Thinking About Changing LA's Stubby Skyline Code [Curbed LA]
· Flat Roofs and Fire Safety: Pelli's Red Fin Rises Amid Helipad Debate [Curbed LA]