Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
In this Dec. 16, 2010, file photo, an ironworker connects a steel plate to a column at One World Trade Center in New York. The Empire State Building is visible in the rear upper left. One World Trade Center, the giant monolith being built to replace the twin towers destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks, will lay claim to the title of New York City's tallest skyscraper on Monday, April 30, 2012, as workers erect steel columns that will make its unfinished skeleton a little over 1,250 feet, just high enough to peak over the observation deck on the Empire State Building. The milestone is a preliminary one. The so-called "Freedom Tower" isn't expected to reach its full height for at least another year, at which point it is likely to be declared the tallest building in the U.S. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
With an asterisk, WTC is back as tallest skyscraper in New York City
First Published Apr 30 2012 10:31 am • Last Updated Apr 30 2012 01:51 pm

New York » One World Trade Center, the giant monolith being built to replace the twin towers destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks, will lay claim to the title of New York City’s tallest skyscraper on Monday. Workers will erect steel columns that will make its unfinished skeleton a little over 1,250 feet high, just enough to peak over the roof of the observation deck on the Empire State Building.

The milestone is a preliminary one. Workers are still adding floors to the so-called "Freedom Tower" and it isn’t expected to reach its full height for at least another year, at which point it is likely to be declared the tallest building in the U.S., and third tallest in the world.

Photos

iframe code:

At a glance

A look at the tallest completed buildings in U.S.

The tallest completed buildings in the United States, as measured from the lowest public entrance to the highest architectural element, not including antennas. After it is finished, One World Trade Center may take over the top spot, but only if you count its rooftop spire, which reaches to 1,776 feet.

1 » Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), Chicago, 1974: 1,451 feet.

2 » Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chicago, 2009: 1,389 feet.

3 » Empire State Building, New York, 1931: 1,250 feet.

4 » Bank of America Tower, New York, 2009: 1,200 feet.

5 » Aon Center, Chicago, 1973: 1,136 feet.

Source: Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Those bragging rights, though, will carry an asterisk.

Crowning the world’s tallest buildings is a little like picking the heavyweight champion in boxing. There is often disagreement about who deserves the belt.

In this case, the issue involves the 408-foot-tall needle that will sit on the tower’s roof.

Count it, and the World Trade Center is back on top. Otherwise, it will have to settle for No. 2, after the Willis Tower in Chicago.

"Height is complicated," said Nathaniel Hollister, a spokesman for The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats, a Chicago-based organization considered an authority on such records.

Experts and architects have long disagreed about where to stop measuring super-tall buildings outfitted with masts, spires and antennas that extend far above the roof.

Consider the case of the Empire State Building: Measured from the sidewalk to the tip of its needle-like antenna, the granddaddy of all super-tall skyscrapers actually stands 1,454 feet high, well above the mark being surpassed by One World Trade Center on Monday.

Purists, though, say antennas shouldn’t count when determining building height.


story continues below
story continues below

An antenna, they say, is more like furniture than a piece of architecture. Like a chair sitting on a rooftop, an antenna can be attached or removed. The Empire State Building didn’t even get its distinctive antenna until 1952. The record books, as the argument goes, shouldn’t change every time someone installs a new satellite dish.

Excluding the antenna brings the Empire State Building’s total height to 1,250 feet. That was still high enough to make the skyscraper the world’s tallest from 1931 until 1972.

From that height, the Empire State seems to tower over the second tallest completed building in New York, the Bank of America Tower.

Yet, in many record books, the two skyscrapers are separated by just 50 feet.

That’s because the tall, thin mast on top of the Bank of America building isn’t an antenna, but a decorative spire.

Unlike antennas, record-keepers like spires. It’s a tradition that harkens back to a time when the tallest buildings in many European cities were cathedrals. Groups like the Council on Tall Buildings, and Emporis, a building data provider in Germany, both count spires when measuring the total height of a building, even if that spire happens to look exactly like an antenna.

This quirk in the record books has benefited buildings like Chicago’s recently opened Trump International Hotel and Tower. It is routinely listed as being between 119 to 139 feet taller than the Empire State Building, thanks to the antenna-like mast that sits on its roof, even though the average person, looking at the two buildings side by side, would probably judge the New York skyscraper to be taller.

The same factors apply to measuring the height of One World Trade Center.

Designs call for the tower’s roof to stand at 1,368 feet — the same height as the north tower of the original World Trade Center. The building’s roof will be topped with a 408-foot, cable-stayed mast, making the total height of the structure a symbolic 1,776 feet.

So is that needle an antenna or a spire?

"Not sure," wrote Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the building.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.