The claim to fame of having the country’s tallest building once again rests with New York City. This week, 1 World Trade Center beat out Chicago’s Willis Tower as the highest skyscraper of them all (at least in the United States), reaching up to 1,776 feet. The Willis Tower comes in at 1,451 feet. CNN reports that the lingering controversy held over whether the 408-foot needle atop 1 WTC counted toward its height. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat met earlier this week and ruled the needle to be a “spire” — a permanent part of the architecture that does indeed count toward its height.
The original 1 WTC design called for the needle on top of the tower to be enclosed in a structure made of steel and fiberglass. This cover was nixed due to potential issues with maintenance, leaving the question of whether or not the needle was a permanent feature of the building or not. (The Council on Tall Buildings, an independent organization, does not count temporary structures like antennas or signage toward height.) The building, without the spire, reaches 1,368 feet — symbolically, it is the height of the original World Trade Center Tower 1, but it wouldn’t be enough to claim the title for the country’s tallest.
The effort to claim the title wasn’t entirely motivated by tourist dollars. The Council of Tall Building’s executive director Antony Wood told the New York Post that “this was a quest to put something meaningful and symbolic on that site because of the horrible history of what happened on that site.” Another council member Timothy Johnson said this to CNN: “With respect to the events of 9/11 and what this building commemorates with 1776 and democracy and freedom, we were very happy to find that the building fit our criteria to be 1,776 feet tall.”
All this doesn’t mean that 1 WTC is ready for occupancy. The building is expected to wrap construction in early 2014. The building, according to the Post, has so far leased about half of its 3 million square feet of office space. Once construction finishes and the building receives its certificate of occupancy, 1 WTC will officially be the third tallest building in the world, behind skyscrapers in Dubai and Saudi Arabia.