Access to daylight and views are importantly determined by enduring decisions about building and urban form. There are many types of constraints, including landscape elements, technological limitations, cultural traditions, and legal codes. While social restraints on building forms, such as codes and standards, may be resisted by building owners, they can ensure important resiliency during unexpected or extreme events.

Land use patterns, including street layouts and property lines, are very persistent over centuries. Many of our common prototypes for daylit building were inherited from the Roman empire, based on two- and three-story buildings which were primarily toplit. As buildings got taller, their relationship to daylight and views changed. Stairways and fire safety were commonly limiting factors until the adoption of steel construction and elevators in the late nineteenth century. Towers have since become important landmarks and tourist attractions in most cities, but also create inherent conflicts of shadowed streets and blocked views. Analysis of shadowing, solar access, and view-sheds promises future urban plans that can better balance all needs, and create enduring urban forms that preserve access to daylight and views for all residents, rather than just the privileged few.