Sorry, Chicago. One World Trade Center has officially been named the tallest building in the United States.
The announcement was made this morning by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), which makes the final calls on building heights around the world. After closed-door deliberation by an international panel of architects, the Council decided the new World Trade Center’s 408-foot spire will in fact count towards its final height, since the spire is a permanent part of the building. So at an official height of 1,776 feet, it steals the title from the 1,451-foot Willis Tower in Chicago.
The crucial 408-foot spire is also key to the symbolic power of the new skyscraper, conceived as a monument to all those who perished on 9/11. The 1,776-foot height honors America’s founding year and is intended to stand as a renewed declaration of independence. Without the spire, the new tower would be 1,368 feet, the height of the original World Trade Center.
The spire may be indeed be “vanity height” — what the CTBUH calls uninhabitable space atop skyscrapers — but in this case symbolism has won out in the end.