What if Elon Musk wants to build a rocket on the roof of the Dakota?

The addition to Bill Ackman e Neri Oxman's apartment in NY might be a precedent that could turn the billionaire’s plans for his prewar penthouse real, sparking fears on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Image courtesy of Norman Foster

New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission had a three hours long Zoom hearing about whether the city ought to let the billionaire hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman and his wife, Neri Oxman, build a two-story glass pavilion above the top-floor apartment they own in a building located on West 77th Street and dating back from 1927.

The couple commissioned the famous British architect Norman Foster to design the 3,000-square-foot addition that would replace an existing structure of the same size. The issue, by the way, is not necessarily aesthetic – though some noticed that the addition would be oddly pastoral for a city as New York, and others instead found it too beachy or simply intrusive.

The problem is that if this were permitted, in the future other billionaire might materialize their not always good and reasonable fantasies. Many testimonies asking commissioners to reject the project were based, in fact, on the fear of the precedent it might set. One speaker of the meeting pointed out in this regard: “What would prevent the Landmarks Committee from someday allowing Elon Musk to build whatever he wanted, say, on top of the Dakota?”.

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