One World Trade Center named tallest building in U.S. - FOX 35 News Orlando

One World Trade Center named tallest building in U.S.

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Height Committee of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat declared One World Trade Center in New York the tallest in the U.S. on Tuesday, pushing the Second City's Willis Tower to No. 2.

The international panel of architects is widely recognized as the final arbiter of official building heights around the world.

The Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower, stood as the tallest American structure for years. In the world of tourism and architecture, it's a very important designation.

The Willis Tower was certainly the hometown favorite. But One World Trade Center, built on the site of the 9/11 terror attacks, is a symbol of hope to New Yorkers and to the rest of the nation – a manifestation of perseverance.

The new World Trade Center tower remains under construction and is expected to open next year. The tourism dollars are sure to follow, with the new title.

The debate centered on whether the 408-ft. mast can be counted as a spire, bringing its height to 1776 ft. The mast was originally designed with an outer shell, made of fiberglass and steel – to protect the communications gear. But that was eliminated in 2012, over costs and maintenance concerns.

Experts announced Tuesday that the needle atop the skyscraper can be counted when measuring the structure's height because it is not an antenna, but a spire – thus a permanent part of the building. Under the council's current criteria, spires that are an integral part of a building's aesthetic design count. Broadcast antennas that can be added and removed do not.

The significance of One World Trade Center's height is that it is the same year America was born – 1776. The Willis Tower stands at 1451 ft. The two antennae on top are not factored in its height. Tourists say that's the way it should be. One World Trade Center officially would have been considered 1,368 feet tall without the needle.

The Chicago–based Council on Tall Buildings Urban Habitat calls the Illinois Institute of Technology home. The 30 Height Committee members are 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.

Daniel Safarik, an architect and spokesman for the nonprofit council, said it might consider amending its height criteria. Such a move would have much broader implications that could force a reshuffle in the rankings of the tallest buildings in the world.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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