New World Trade Centre tallest building in US

WTC tower declared tallest building in US

An expert committee declares New York's new World Trade Centre tower the tallest building in the United States.

New York: For the first time in nearly 40 years, America's largest city is home to America's tallest building.

One World Trade Centre, at 451 metres, is indeed taller than the Willis Tower in Chicago, which measures 442 metres. That judgment was delivered by the official arbiter of structural stature, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

While comparing the heights of two office buildings may sound like child's play, the decision was not so simple, according to Timothy Johnson, the chairman of the council. The measuring was complicated by the long mast that stands atop the trade centre tower.

Without that mast, the new skyscraper in Lower Manhattan is indisputably shorter than the Willis Tower, which had been the tallest building in the country since it was completed - and named the Sears Tower - in 1974. But the mast, which New Yorkers call a spire but Chicagoans see as a mere antenna, adds about 122 metres to the trade centre building, which is scheduled to open next year.

Mr Johnson said there was plenty of discussion about the purpose of the mast when the 25 members of the council's height committee met on Friday in Chicago. In order to be counted as part of the building, the mast had to be deemed a permanent part of the architectural expression of the building.

The chief architect of 1 World Trade Centre, David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, told the committee that the mast should be counted, in part, because the building was designed with the intention of having the symbolic height of 1,776 feet (541 metres), a reference to the year of the United States declaration of independence.

The One World Trade Centre is built on the site of the original World Trade Centre, whose iconic twin towers were toppled in the September 11, 2001 attack.

Neither skyscraper comes close to the world record, which is held by the 830-metre-high Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

New York Times, AFP