One World Trade Center to surpass Willis Tower as tallest building in US

November 12, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Willis Tower will soon no longer be the nation's tallest tower. Ironically, it was a Chicago-based organization that made the decision.

The decision is a controversial one and it all comes down to how they measure the buildings height

In New York, they count the spire at the top of One World Trade Center saying it is a permanent architectural figure but in Chicago, the organization has decided not to include the two antennae on the roof because its height has changed over the years.

This may be a beautiful structure, with unmatched views, but when it comes to the battle over who has the tallest building in North America, Chicago comes up short.

The city that gave the world the skyscraper will soon lose its claim on having America's tallest.

''It's not good. It's still the tallest building in the world, and the best, the Sears Tower,'' said Chicago resident Toni Bell.

First, we lost the name to a British insurance company, and now, New York and the soon-to-be completed Freedom Tower win the height fight.

Architects, engineers and experts from the Council on Tall Buildings got together and voted.

Their conclusion: One World Trade Center is 1,776 feet tall, but they include the spire at the top. Remove it and the new, New York skyscraper is actually 83 feet shy of the Willis Tower's height.

But the ''tall buildings'' people say Willis' antennae don't count.

''If we think about the Willis, er Sears Tower here in Chicago, that building was originally finished and there were no antennae on the top, the antennae came after the building. Depending on prevailing technology, the antennae may get shorter or taller,'' said Antony Wood of the Council on Tall Buildings.

Chicago's mayor says wait a minute, that spire in New York may also be used as a transmitter.

''If it looks like an antenna, acts like an antenna, then guess what, it is an antenna,'' said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

When One World Trade Center is complete in 2014, it will become the world's third-tallest skyscraper, and the Willis Tower will slip to the tenth-tallest skyscraper.

Lest you think all is lost and we are doomed to wear the second - or tenth - city title forever, the Willis Tower folks offer this spin.

"We are standing right now on the Skydeck at Willis Tower that's 1,353 feet above ground, in the highest-occupied observatory, in a building, in North America,'' said Willis Tower spokesman Bill Utter.

So, we've got the tallest observatory in an occupied building in North America, One World Trade Center's observation deck won't be this high.

The bright side, Chicago's slide down the global-tallest-building ladder in the last few years hasn't slowed interest. Last year: a record 1.5 million came to the top to see the view from the Skydeck.

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