CHICAGO — The new World Trade Center tower in New York will replace Chicago’s Willis Tower as the nation’s tallest building when it is completed next year, an international panel of architects announced Tuesday.
The Height Committee of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat said that because the needle atop the New York skyscraper is a permanent spire and not an antenna it can be counted when measuring the structure’s height.
The needle, measuring 408 feet tall, was more than enough to confirm Chicago is the Second City when it comes to tall buildings.
With the needle, 1 World Trade Center is a symbolically important 1,776 feet tall. Without it, the building would have been only 1,368 feet tall — well short of the 1,451-foot Willis Tower.
At stake was more than just the pride of two cities that feast on superlatives and the tourist dollars that might follow: 1 World Trade Center, with its beacon on top will stand as a monument to those killed in the 9/11 attacks, and its architects had sought to capture the echo of America’s founding year in the structure’s height.
Not only that, but the building’s height without the needle also holds symbolism because at 1,368 feet it is the height of the original World Trade Center.
Antony Wood, the council’s executive director, said the needle is particularly important as a “structural and symbolic element.”
Further, he said, the decision to put the spire atop the building was part of a ‘quest” to build a permanent reminder of what the nation went through.
“This was not an economic quest for bragging rights to the U.S.’s tallest,’ he said. “This was a quest to put something meaningful and symbolic on that site because of the horrible history of what happened on that site.”