One World Trade Center Named Tallest Building In U.S.

NYC Skyline With One World Trade Center

The building that replaced the towers than were knocked down on September 11, 2001 has been officially designated the tallest building in the United States:

One World Trade Center will be the nation’s tallest building when it opens next year, a Chicago-based tall buildings council announced Tuesday, a decision that drew a quick rebuke from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The decision by the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat hinged on whether the tower’s mast was a spire, which counts in height measurements, or an antenna, which doesn’t.

“Even though the cladding was taken off the spire, you can still see that it is an architectural element,” said Antony Wood, executive director of the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. “It is not just a plain steel mast from which to hang antenna or satellite dishes.”


[T]he council ruled that One World Trade Center’s mast is a spire because it will be a permanent feature, its height locked in at a symbolic 1,776 feet. In doing so, the council accepted the argument of the skyscraper’s architect and developers that the mast is part of the building’s fixed height of 1,776-feet. That distinguishes the mast from an ordinary antenna, like the one atop Willis, whose height can be changed.

“We know that it is a permanent feature because of the sacrosanct nature of the 1,776 height,” Wood said.  “The key word is permanence.”

“We felt it was really a designed element,” not just a functional piece of equipment, added Peter Weismantle, the chair of the council’s height committee.

The council also sided with the New Yorkers in ruling that World Trade Center’s bottom, or baseline for measuring its height, should be considered its main entrance facing south toward the National Sept. 11 Memorial, not the building’s north entrance. Because of the skyscraper’s site slopes, the north entrance is 5 feet, 8 inches lower than the main entrance.

The council’s height standards state a building’s height is measured from its lowest outdoor entrance to its architectural top. If One World Trade Center’s height was measured from the north entrance, the building would be 1,781 feet tall—still the nation’s tallest, but without the symbolic ring of 1,776 feet.

“That entrance is not classified as significant,” Wood said. Ninety-nine percent of people will be entering One World Trade Center off the memorial plaza, he added.

In the end, I don’t think anything was going to stop the designation of this building as the tallest in the United States, both because of  the technical factors the Council cites and because of the symbolic nature of the building itself. Besides, I doubt this will do much to diminish the grandeur of Chicago’s skyline, or of the Willis Tower, which every good American knows should still be called the Sears Tower.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. grumpy realist says:

    If people can’t get up into the spike I don’t think it should count in the height measurements.

  2. Tony W says:

    @grumpy realist: harrumph….why do you hate America? :o)