For four decades, the Los Angeles skyline has been shaped by one rule: Every tall building must have an emergency helicopter landing pad on its roof.
As a result, downtown became a thicket of flat-topped skyscrapers, to the chagrin of architects who yearned to imitate or outdo the pointed spires and slanted roofs of skylines around the world. Other big cities had no such regulation.
And now, neither does Los Angeles.
On Monday, city leaders heralded a code change that allows builders to forego the helipads so long as they put in extra safety features. The change, they say, could remake that boxy skyline, unshackle architects and elevate the look of Los...