One World Trade Center: The Tallest

Nov 17, 2013 By Deepa Gopal
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It is official. One World Trade Center (1WTC) is now the tallest building in the U.S, surpassing Chicago's Willis Tower, previously known as Sears Tower.

New York’s tallest building was deemed taller even though it has six fewer floors and its roof is more than 100 feet lower than that of the Willis Tower. The Willis building stands at 1,451 feet and has an antenna on its roof that is not considered part of the building structure. 

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats came to the conclusion after agreeing that the structure on top of One World Trade Center that takes the building's height to 1776 feet is actually a spire as it cannot be detached from the building.

While 1WTC represents America's resilience and is a tribute to those who fell in the 9-11 terrorist attack, skyscraper enthusiasts are calling it an unfair decision. They claim the spire of 1WTC houses an antenna and should not be counted. Even Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emmanuel said of the WTC - "At the Willis Tower, you have a panoramic view that is unmatched. You can’t get a view like that from an antenna."

The Race For Height

If we look back at history, the Great Pyramids of Giza built by Ancient Egyptians towered 480 feet (146 m) above the desert. Today skyscrapers have come to define a nation's or a city's identity.

Tall buildings came up in response to a need for more housing in congested cities. In the early days, skyscrapers were no more than ten floors tall, as the lower walls had to be made thick to support the upper floors. The invention of iron and steel as a construction material in 1880 changed the landscape. Now, buildings are made with vertical, horizontal and cross beams. The outer walls don't need to be thick anymore -- just better enforced, and can even be made of special glass! The invention of elevators, and their placement at strategic points within the building also serve to strengthen the structure.

What happens if there are strong gusts, or worse yet an earthquake? The whole structure is bolted strongly together and will sway as one as it moves with the Earth's plates. Not the most pleasant experience for the building's occupants! 

The Tallest Building In The World

Today, the tallest building in the world is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, towering at 2,717 feet (828 m) followed by the Royal Clock Tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia at 1,972 feet (601 m). 1WTC when occupied, will be the third tallest.

But there are more buildings under construction in China. Sky City in the southern Chinese city of Changsha when completed by 2014 will overshadow the Burj Khalifa by 10 meters. Saudi Arabia has plans for the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah which will reach a height of 1 Km (1000 m)! And so, the race continues...

Would you like to live in the top floors of a building that is 3,280 feet (1000m) tall?