The rise of supertallsuperthins in Manhattan has driven upward the angst over skyscrapers, but who has given much thought to what it might be like to live in one – if anyone actually does. I see a run on the telescope market to facilitate voyeurism, with peeping toms popping in unannounced from distant windows to partake of the high life, especially among the supertall clusters encouraged by their Yes In My Back Yard (YIMBY) proponents.
More disturbing, perhaps, might be the run on pen lasers among the hoi polloi in lower buildings. If young rascals are pointing lasers at airline pilots, imagine the thrill of pointing them at the 1 percent in the glass towers rising above them, making them feel small.
Perhaps even more disturbing still, even in the wake of the international agreement in Paris, the climate promises to continue changing. Manhattan can probably handle rising sea levels but little thought has been given to what impact rising winds have on supertallsuperthins. Sick Building Syndrome caused by inoperable windows and recirculated air might be joined by Dizzy Building Syndrome as towers sway in the wind. All kitchens and offices will have to lay in a supply of easy-to-reach barf bags.
If builders are using practices imported from China, how safe will these structures be? Will their owners have to take out wind-insurance policies? What about the buildings below? Will their owners need insurance against being toppled on by their lofty neighbors?
Is it too late to try to think this through again?
“As a New Society Climbs in Manhattan, it’s a Race to the Top” is an assessment of this building boom by Matt A.V. Chaban in The New York Times: “It’s like the Who song,” said Jonathan Miller, president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel. “You can see for miles and miles and miles. Until you look into your neighbor’s building.”