New York: The One World Trade Center, currently being built at the site of the twin towers destroyed in the 9/11 terror attacks, has been declared the tallest building in the US at a symbolic height of 1,776 feet.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), the final arbiter of official building heights around the world, passed the title to the new structure yesterday from Chicago`s Willis Tower, which had been America`s tallest high-rise for the past 40 years.
The tower in lower Manhattan has six floors less than the 1,451-foot Willis Tower and its roof is more than 100 feet lower than the top of the Chicago tower.
In the end, it all boiled down to the Council`s definition of an antenna that sits on top of the building. The committee of architects measures the height of a building from the level of the lowest entrance to the architectural top of the building, including spires.
The council has a history of disallowing antennas in height calculations. The Empire State Building`s landmark 62.18-meter needle isn`t counted in its height measurement. Neither are the two TV antennas atop the Willis Tower, which had been the country`s tallest building since it was completed and named the Sears Tower in 1974.
But in the end, there was unanimity on the committee that One World Trade Center`s reach for 1,776 feet, a number that symbolises the founding year of the United States, was an artistic architectural expression.
"This iconic building represents the resilience of America, and today’s decision recognises 1 World Trade Center`s rightful place in history," World Trade Center`s developer, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said in a statement
Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago was, however, not satisfied with the decision.
"If it looks like an antenna, acts like an antenna, then it is an antenna," Emanuel said.
"At the Willis Tower, you have a panoramic view that is unmatched. You can`t get a view like that from an antenna. So for all those who want to climb on top of an antenna and take a look, go ahead. I would suggest stay indoors and take a look," he said.
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.
"I was here on 9/11. I saw the buildings come down," he said.
One World Trade Center was built on the lower Manhattan site of the iconic Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 along with other buildings in the World Trade Center complex. More than 2,000 people were killed there.
"The design of One World Trade Center, as explained to us, reinforces its role as a symbol of resurgence on this important site," said CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood.
When completed in early 2014, One World Trade Centre will be the third-tallest building in the world after the 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the 1,972-foot Makkah Royal Clock Tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.