And the tallest building in U.S. is — One World Trade Center
Council certifies inclusion of tower’s antenna in its height
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.