Today, construction workers will bring the height of the unfinished skeleton of One World Trade Center to 1,250 feet, bringing it just over the height of the Empire State Building. At this height, it’s the tallest building in New York City and when the structure is completed in about a year, it will be the tallest in the US and probably the third tallest in the world.
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.
The needle will, indeed, function as a broadcast antenna. It is described on the Port Authority’s website as an antenna. On the other hand, the structure will have more meat to it than your average antenna, with external cladding encasing the broadcast mast.
Without that spire, One World Trade Center would still be smaller than the Willis Tower in Chicago, formerly known as the Sears Tower, which tops out at 1,451 feet (not including its own antennas).
Debate over which of those buildings can truly claim to be the tallest in the U.S. has been raging for years on Internet message boards frequented by skyscraper enthusiasts.
As for the Council on Tall Buildings, it is leaning toward giving One World Trade the benefit of the doubt.
“This is something we have discussed with the architect,” Hollister said. “As we understand it, the needle is an architectural spire which happens to enclose an antenna. We would thus count it as part of the architectural height.”