He said the antennae on top of the Willis Tower help to make the committee’s point about permanence, explaining that when the building went up there were no antennae, and that the original antennae have been replaced with taller ones.
Wood also made another point that, though not a factor on the committee’s decision, is significant: that the Willis Tower will continue to be an attraction for years just like the Empire State Building is decades after it, too, was eclipsed by taller buildings.
“Are any fewer people going to come to Chicago or even travel and visit the Willis Tower because it no longer holds the title of the U.S. tallest? “ he asked. “No,” I don’t think it does.”
The Height Committee comprises about two dozen industry professionals from all over the world and is widely recognized as the final arbiter of official building heights around the world. They conferred behind closed doors last week in Chicago, where the world’s first skyscraper appeared in 1884.
The new World Trade Center tower remains under construction and is expected to open next year.
The designers originally had intended to enclose the mast’s communications gear in decorative cladding made of fiberglass and steel. But the developer removed that exterior shell from the design, saying it would be impossible to properly maintain or repair. Without it, the question was whether the mast was now primarily just a broadcast antenna.