Willis Tower Could Maintain No. 1 Height Status

Spire installation on One World Trade Center may not qualify for tallest building status

Thursday, May 2, 2013  |  Updated 12:42 PM CDT
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Hidden Art: World Trade Center Graffiti

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The Willis Tower will soon have someone to look up to.

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Hidden Art: World Trade Center Graffiti

Workers and visitors to the new One World Trade Center building in New York are leaving their personal marks on the concrete and steel. Graffiti art appears on beams, walls and stairwells of the skyscraper that's rising to replace the destroyed twin towers.
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Chicago may not have to settle for second city status after all. At least not when it comes to our buildings.

As workers lifted the final pieces of the spire onto the roof of Manhattan's One World Trade Center Thursday morning, doubts remained as to whether it will indeed be the tallest in the Western Hemisphere upon completion.

When the pieces are installed, One World Trade Center will top 1,776 feet, which is technically higher than both Chicago's Willis Tower and Trump International Hotel & Tower.

But the tallest in the West designation won't be official until the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat signs off, NBC News reported.
The non-profit group has three different methods of measuring skyscrapers, looking either at the height to a building’s architectural top, the highest occupied floor or the height to the tip.

The first method is the most widely used yardstick and the one the council employs to put together its "World's Tallest Buildings" list. A spire usually counts as an architectural top – it’s considered a permanent part of the building, unlike an antenna – but the council has not yet issued an opinion on One World Trade Center because it hasn’t received the final construction drawings, spokesman Daniel Safarik said. Once the papers are sent, a “height committee” will make the final determination, he added.

If the council doesn't count the building's spire as an "architectural top," One World Trade Center would rank third, behind Willis and Trump.

The raising of the pieces was originally scheduled for Monday, but was postponed because of weather.

The world's tallest building, topping 2,700 feet, is in Dubai.

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