One World Trade Center unseats Willis Tower as western hemisphere’s tallest building

East Midwest National Skyscrapers
Left: 1 World Trade Center; Right: Willis Tower. (Pat Hawks and gigi_nyc via Flickr; composite by A|N)

Left: 1 World Trade Center; Right: Willis Tower. (Pat Hawks and gigi_nyc via Flickr; composite by AN)

Move over, Willis Tower. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) issued its official ruling Tuesday: New York’s One World Trade Center unseats the Chicago skyscraper as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

The new tower’s symbolic height of 1,776 feet was called into question when a design change suggested it might achieve that elevation only through the addition of a removable broadcast antenna. CTBUH counts only structural elements that are considered an integral part of the building’s aesthetic.

It was designers Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s assertion that 1 World Trade Center’s communications equipment represented a permanent architectural feature that persuaded CTBUH to affirm its height. The bottom point of the building was also in dispute.

Without antennae, 1 World Trade Center is 1,368 feet tall — the height of the original World Trade Center tower destroyed in the 2001 terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

Chicago’s Willis Tower (also an SOM building), still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower, stands 1,451 feet tall — 1,729 feet tall with antennas. It was the tallest building in the world until 1996, when the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, won CTBUH’s recognition.

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