Once Manhattan’s One World Trade Center received its 408-foot spire last May, completing the tower’s 1,776-foot height, it was only a matter of time before the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) would weigh in on the building’s official height — as far as the record books go, that is.
The CTBUH, based in Chicago, is a four-decade-old, industry-supported international nonprofit that keeps official records for buildings at least 150 meters tall. And it is very particular about how skyscraper heights are measured. The issue with 1 WTC was whether the spire added in May was an “architectural element,” and therefore integral to the building, or merely an antenna, which the CTBUH does not count toward a building’s height. Complicating the issue was the fact that the cladding designed for the 1 WTC spire had been value-engineered out before the spire went on top of the skyscraper, leaving it unclear how the CTBUH would rule.
In the end, after hearing from the tower’s designers and others in early November, the CTBUH concluded that the 1 WTC spire was indeed a spire and not an antenna — and thus the skyscraper is officially 1,776 feet tall, just nudging out the former tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, Chicago’s Willis (Sears) Tower (1,729 feet). As the image at top shows, this puts 1 WTC at third tallest in the world among completed buildings.
However, this world ranking won’t last long: As the CTBUH database shows, when skyscrapers that are planned or under construction are included, 1 WTC currently comes in at #17. And even though no taller buildings have been planned in the Western Hemisphere, allowing it to keep that #1 raking, at the rate new supertall towers seem to be announced elsewhere, 1 WTC is likely to drop further down the list as the years go by.