The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

November 12, 2013

One World Trade Center beats Willis Tower as tallest U.S. building

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

But the council also has a history of disallowing antennas in height calculations. The Empire State Building’s landmark 204-foot needle isn’t counted in its height measurement. Neither are the two TV antennas atop the Willis Tower, which had been the country’s tallest building since it was completed — and named the Sears Tower — in 1974.

But in the end, there was unanimity on the committee that One World Trade Center’s reach for 1,776 feet — a number that echoes the founding year of the United States — was an artistic architectural expression.

“This was a quest to put something meaningful and symbolic on that site because of the horrible history of what happened on that site,” said Antony Wood, the council’s executive director.

Tourists photographing the skyscraper Tuesday mostly agreed that when it comes to height measurements, this spire should count.

“For any other building, no. But for this one, yes,” said Cary Bass, of Lake Mary, Fla., as he waited to enter the National Sept. 11 Memorial at the new skyscraper’s feet. “Those people deserve it,” he said, referring to the attack victims.

“It’s a special building,” said Paul Schlagel, visiting from Longmont, Colo.

When architect Daniel Libeskind won a public design competition for the World Trade Center master plan in 2003, his original vision was for a twisting, angular spire filled with hanging gardens.

Height was part of the appeal. At the time, his design of 1,776 feet would have made the so-called “Freedom Tower” the tallest skyscraper in the world.

Libeskind’s drawings were always meant to be conceptual, though, and the real-world designs produced by architect David Childs and the tower’s owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, reduced that glass spire to a more conventional cable-stayed mast, which would support broadcast equipment and a rotating beacon, visible for 50 miles.

That change, along with another that removed a layer of decorative cladding, had created some doubt about how the council might rule.

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