And the tallest build­ing in U.S. is — One World Trade Center

Coun­cil cer­ti­fies in­clu­sion of tower’s an­tenna in its height

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY ALEX HOP­KINS

It took an in­ter­na­tional panel of ar­chi­tects to me­di­ate the fight, but New York City’s new One World Trade Center of­fi­cially ranks as Amer­ica’s tallest build­ing, end­ing the 40-year reign of the coun­try’s long­time skyscrap­ing champ, Wil­lis Tower in Chicago.

The rul­ing by a spe­cial com­mit­tee of the Coun­cil on Tall Build­ings and Ur­ban Habi­tat ends sev­eral weeks of spec­u­la­tion and scrap­ping over whether the 408-foot an­tenna atop the Man­hat­tan build­ing — now be­ing com­pleted at the site of the World Trade Center — could be counted to­ward the build­ing’s sym­bolic 1,776-foot height. With­out the an­tenna, One World Trade Center stands at 1,368 feet tall — 83 feet shorter than the 1,451-foot Wil­lis Tower, known as the Sears Tower un­til 2009.

The Wil­lis Tower has a 278-foot an­tenna that is not counted in its fi­nal height.

Ac­cord­ing to the coun­cil’s cri­te­ria, broad­cast an­ten­nas that can be added or re­moved do not count to­ward a build­ing’s fi­nal height. Spires that are deemed an in­te­gral part of a build­ing’s aes­thetic de­sign, how­ever, can be fac­tored into a struc­ture’s of­fi­cial height.

“What it re­ally comes down to is this: What are we mea­sur­ing?” asked Antony Wood, the coun­cil’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, in an NPR in­ter­view ear­lier this month. “If we are mea­sur­ing man’s abil­ity to put ma­te­ri­als above the plane of the Earth, then it should just be ma­te­rial, ir­re­spec­tive of what that ma­te­rial or func­tion is.”

Speak­ing at his of­fice in New York, coun­cil Chair­man Ti­mothy John­son, an ar­chi­tect at the global de­sign firm NBBJ, said the de­ci­sion by the 25-mem­ber height com­mit­tee had more “tense mo­ments” than usual, given the sky­scraper’s im­por­tance as a pa­tri­otic sym­bol, ac­cord­ing to The As­so­ci­ated Press.

“I was here on 9/11. I saw the build­ings come down,” he said.

Over the past few months, the coun­cil had hinted that it might re­vise its stan­dards for mea­sur­ing ul­tra­tall build­ings, given a trend to­ward de­vel­op­ers adding “van­ity height” to tow­ers with huge, dec­o­ra­tive spires.

But the coun­cil also has a his­tory of dis­al­low­ing an­ten­nas in height cal­cu­la­tions. The Wil­lis Tower’s TV an­ten­nas don’t count, nor does the Em­pire State Build­ing’s land­mark 204-foot nee­dle, in the of­fi­cial height mea­sure­ment.

But in the end, an­a­lysts said the com­mit­tee unan­i­mously con­cluded that One World Trade Center’s reach for 1,776 feet — a num­ber that echoes the found­ing year of the United States — was an artis­tic ar­chi­tec­tural ex­pres­sion.

“This was a quest to put some­thing mean­ing­ful and sym­bolic on that site be­cause of the hor­ri­ble his­tory of what hap­pened on that site,” Mr. Wood said.

The Wil­lis Tower has claimed the brag­ging rights as the tallest build­ing in Amer­ica since its com­ple­tion in 1974 as the Sears Tower.

With the panel’s rul­ing Tues­day, not only is One World Trade Center Amer­ica’s tallest build­ing, but it ranks as the world’s third tallest, beat­ing out Tai­wan’s 1,667-footh­igh Taipei 101.

Nei­ther Amer­i­can con­tender comes any­where close to the reign­ing world champ — Dubai’s Burj Khal­ifa, a 2,717-footh­igh be­he­moth with 163 floors of mixed of­fice, res­i­den­tial and re­tail space that opened in Jan­uary 2010.

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