This fascinating, yet troubling video depicts the ongoing development of Billionaire’s Row along and near the south end of Central Park in Midtown Manhattan. As these new super-tall skyscrapers are built they not only impact their adjoining neighbors, but have impacts which extend well beyond their footprint.
As highlighted in a recent New York Times article and video, these impacts include, but are not limited to obstructing view sheds, casting shadows over parts of Central Park and other open public spaces, as well as significantly altering the city’s famous Midtown skyline. While any city’s skyline is an continuing work in progress, there can be instances where a single building or cluster of buildings redefine the very visual image of the city.
Detroit’s Renaissance Center did just that when it was completed in 1977, essentially making the skyline appear lopsided or overweighted towards the Renaissance Center, particularly when viewed from the Detroit River and Canada.
The former twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center had a similar lopsiding effect on Lower Manhattan’s skyline when viewed from Staten Island and other points south. This was partially due to their close proximity to the Hudson River side of the island. The recently completed One World Trade Center/Freedom Tower, along with the addition of other new towers has edged the Lower Manhattan skyline back closer to balance.
To this urban planner, and perhaps to many other people, a city’s skyline should be at least somewhat symmetrical. I don’t know if this is from geometric designs being stuck in our heads or what. How the Billionaire’s Row skyscraper boom in Midtown Manhattan will eventually play out or how long it will continue is anyone’s guess, but suffice it to say that a number of people will be displeased as it progresses.