One World Trade Center unseats Willis Tower as western hemisphere’s tallest building

East, Midwest, National
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
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Left: 1 World Trade Center; Right: Willis Tower. (Pat Hawks and gigi_nyc via Flickr; composite by A|N)

Left: 1 World Trade Center; Right: Willis Tower. (Pat Hawks and gigi_nyc via Flickr; composite by AN)

Move over, Willis Tower. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) issued its official ruling Tuesday: New York’s One World Trade Center unseats the Chicago skyscraper as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

The new tower’s symbolic height of 1,776 feet was called into question when a design change suggested it might achieve that elevation only through the addition of a removable broadcast antenna. CTBUH counts only structural elements that are considered an integral part of the building’s aesthetic.

It was designers Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s assertion that 1 World Trade Center’s communications equipment represented a permanent architectural feature that persuaded CTBUH to affirm its height. The bottom point of the building was also in dispute.

Without antennae, 1 World Trade Center is 1,368 feet tall — the height of the original World Trade Center tower destroyed in the 2001 terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

Chicago’s Willis Tower (also an SOM building), still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower, stands 1,451 feet tall — 1,729 feet tall with antennas. It was the tallest building in the world until 1996, when the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, won CTBUH’s recognition.

2 Responses to “One World Trade Center unseats Willis Tower as western hemisphere’s tallest building”

  1. Staple D says:

    I’m waiting for the sunami of press releases from Libeskind’s office, all claiming it’s still really about HIS ideas and HIS design beating all comers. What a shameless and pathetic little man …

  2. Randall Ellison says:

    The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat — the same organization that calls the 12-foot diameter 80-foot tall cylindrical tubes that extend from the roof of Sears Tower “antennas” even though they don’t broadcast anything and were part of the original design, because this is a consortium of so-called trusted experts in the field of structural engineering and architecture.

    Engineers from the design firm of SOM asserted in 1998 that the correct height of Sears Tower is 1518 feet, but the CTBUH conveniently overlooked that technicality to award the Petronas Towers the title of world’s tallest building. Now the CTBUH, in their infinite wisdom, willfully contradicts the long-held (but clearly whimsical) standard of “antennas don’t count” to pander to political special interests.

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