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On a Clear Day CalViewLaw Warns ‘Tallest Building’ Syndrome May Cast Costly Shadows

Earlier this year, I watched a video that provided a tour of the highest penthouse in Manhattan. How I marveled at the unblemished views of the city, the Hudson River and beyond. On a clear day, or so it would seem, the occupants truly can see forever. At a rental cost in the vicinity of $60,000 per month, the views had better be glorious.

But as May approached, I began to wonder what would happen to that lofty property and its dwellers if builders began to erect an even taller structure right next door?

This fiendish thought came to mind when I learned that One World Trade Center will soon earn the sobriquet “tallest building in Manhattan.”

The unfinished frame of One WTC is now just over 1,250 feet high, which means it overshadows the roof of the observation deck on the Empire State Building. When including the antenna, the landmark skyscraper stands at a mere 1,454 feet high.

“When complete, One World Trade Center will soar 1,776 feet, including its communications platform and a 408-foot antenna,” according to Laura Matthews reporting for International Business Times.

Praise for Great Achievements

Please don’t confuse my ponderings with any ill will toward the resurrection of this tragic address. Also, it must be said that buildings are not covered by the view ordinances — view restoration, view protection, and so forth — that are my expertise. Buildings must meet the high standards of zoning codes.

Rather, the news item was a reminder that in America we often celebrate height and enormous achievements, in part, because we admire the engineering, the audacity and the vision.

Even so, what about the view?

Why should one structure claim all that airy space — where eagle’s soar and angels congregate — at the expense of its neighbors? If the view from my backyard (or your penthouse) is suddenly blocked, should I merely sigh or sue?

Fortunately, in NYC, the penthouse panorama will not be harmed by One World Trade Center. In fact, the new building may be one of the highlights.

Yet when similar issues about view … view restoration … and view preservation … come to your neighborhood, you might well ask, “What gives?”

Celebrating the tallest in the land is only natural. But upon further reflection, it may also reveal a disregard for those small, personal joys of sitting on your veranda or patio and seeing your own little patch of forever.