What is the tallest building in America?
It's One World Trade Center, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat's Height Committee announced Tuesday, settling a debate between New York and Chicago over the tallest-building mantle.
Critics had said the 408-foot spire atop the 1,776-foot One World Trade is an antennae and should not be counted. Without it, the building would measure 1,368 feet, or 83 feet shorter than Chicago's 1,451-foot Willis Tower.
But architects for the yet-to-be-opened One World Trade Center say the spire is part of the building’s overall aesthetic appeal.
The council agreed. "That crowning structure is never to be added to and never to be taken away," Antony Wood, the council's executive director, told reporters.
The symbolic height of One World Trade Center, 1,776 feet, also played a role in the decision, Wood said.
“What it really comes down to is this: What are we measuring?” Wood told NPR earlier this month. “If we are measuring man’s ability to put materials above the plane of the Earth, then it should just be material, irrespective of what that material or function is. Or are we measuring man’s ability to put man above the plane of the Earth? Are we going with the highest occupied floor? Or something in between?”
The debate between the two cities had been a bit contentious.
"The Second City — apparently tired of looking up at New York — could be conspiring to steal the title of the nation's tallest building," the New York Daily News wrote last week.
"Forget the mast. Or antenna. Or spire. Or whatever you call your pole," Chicago magazine countered. "If you can’t stand on it, it is not part of the building."