Early last week, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (a third-party organization operating out of Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology) officially ruled that the 541-metre-tall tower is the tallest building in the U.S.. Erected just south of the original Twin Towers, 1 World Trade Center is one of several buildings that make up the new WTC complex.
The ruling doesn’t come without controversy. At the centre of it, the 124-metre-high mast that crowns the structure. Is it an antenna? Is it a spire? Whereas an antenna doesn’t count toward the height of the building, a spire does. But SOM’s David Child, the lead architect on the project, insists that the building was designed to reach the symbolic height of 1,776 feet. The steel spire was fabricated by Quebec’s ADF Group, and in October 2012 was the subject of a lawsuit over a payment dispute. Though it was stripped of its steel cladding, the spire was still considered an architectural element.
Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel argues the opposite. “I would just say to all the experts gathered in one room, if it looks like an antenna, acts like an antenna, then guess what? It is an antenna,” he told reporters last week. The honour bumps his city’s Willis Tower back to the number 10 spot on the world’s tallest building list and sees One World Trade Center leapfrog to the number three spot behind the Burj Khalifa and the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel in Mecca. (Toronto’s CN Tower remains the western hemisphere’s tallest freestanding structure.)
Do you think the spire is a spire? Share your thoughts.