Higher Than Thou: The Headaches That Come With Living on Top of the World

Like living in a (sometimes bad) dream. (Extell)

High life isn’t just a cheap beer. It’s also the way that some people—those who like to be in the upper echelons of society both literally and figuratively—live.

Local options for the vertically inclined include New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street, the still-rising One57 and the yet-to-rise 432 Park Avenue. Inevitably, there’s already something else in the works, or soon to be in the works, that will loom over all of those other buildings and block the sunlight for us mere mortals who spend most of our time at street level.

Unfortunately, it’s not all magnificent views and feeling like the master of the universe, even if you do live in a castle in the sky. A lot of the time it’s feeling your living room swaying in storms and lengthy rides in the elevator, we learn from a Wall Street Journal article that takes a look at what it’s like to actually live in the new breed of residential skyscrapers.

Something novice sky-dwellers may not be aware of: skyscrapers can sway as much as a foot during storms.

“Not many people think about that until the first storm comes,” Thomas Guss, a broker who owns a 45th-story unit in the Financial District, told The Journal. Mr. Guss noted that a lot of people are very uncomfortable with the fact that waves appear in the bathtub during storms.

Another dilemma is that on really high floors, clouds are a common occurrence, blocking the views that are lofty units’ main selling points. And the views as you get from really, really high up, especially for buildings that rise far above their neighbors anyway, are only marginally better than those on middle floors.

“People are paying for the status and the exclusivity of living on that next higher floor,” Nancy Packes, a New York-based residential development consultant and marketer told The Journal. “There’s a psychological component to living on high floors in a building. Even though views don’t change materially.

The wind is also a problem, with strong gusts whipping through the marginal window openings of the tippy-top. The wind also makes terraces above the 50th floor of buildings all but impossible (not to mention that a terrace more than 50 stories above the ground is kind of terrifying).

Not noted (but surely it’s a problem?)—nausea-inducing elevators. Residents in such high-end properties demand swift transportation from the bottom to the top, with One57’s swift elevators said to take only 30 seconds to rise from the lobby to the 90th floor. Which makes us wonder, how fast can it descend? Or does one just become accustomed to feeling mildly queasy on the way to the lobby?

kvelsey@observer.com Higher Than Thou: The Headaches That Come With Living on Top of the World