After seven years of construction, at 2PM EST today, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ceremoniously declared that One World Trade Center, once envisioned as the Freedom Tower, will finally surpass the Empire State Building as New York’s tallest building. When the steel column on the 100th floor was placed at 2:08PM EST, the building will reach a height of 1,271 feet, topping the Empire State Building’s 1,250 foot tall building – beating it out by 21 feet. The new World Trade Center is far from completion: the 1,776 foot structure is expected to top out early 2014, when it will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere – beating out Chicago’s Willis (formerly Sears) Tower and the third tallest building on Earth. Still, it is a symbolic milestone in New York, coming on the eve of the one year anniversary of the Navy SEALS raid that killed Osama Bin Laden and led to impromptu gatherings and celebrations at the World Trade Center site, among other national sites.
When it opens, One World Trade Center will have 90 floors of office space – more than half of which has already been reserved for tenants such as the Conde Nast publishing company and Vantone Holdings, a Chinese Investment firm – ten floors reserved for air conditioning, heating, and electrical infrastructure, and the top three floors for observation deck and visitors attractions. The building is part of a revitalization and reconstruction effort at the World Trade Center site that will include more skyscraper office buildings and retail space, a transportation hub, performing arts center, and the National Sept 11th Memorial and Museum, which partially opened on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 to reflect and remember the lives of the 3,000 Americans killed in the 2001 attacks.
Architectural purists, however, have debated whether the building should be crowned the tallest building. The 1,776 foot tower – with a height commemorating the year of the Declaration of Independence – factors in a 408 foot tall antenna. Experts and architects have argued about whether height records should stop at rooftops, and if spires, antennas and masts are considered decoration or furniture that do not take the building’s height into consideration. The Empire State Building, which was the world’s tallest building from its opening on May 1st, 1931 to the completion of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in December 1972, added its antenna in 1952, extending the height to 1,454 feet.
However, the second tallest building in New York is the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, which is 50 feet shorter, but has a decorative spire that architectural enthusiasts are far more willing to include into heights over antennas and spires, due to its historical significants in early architectural and cathedral design. One World Trade Center, at its rooftop height, will be 1,368 feet tall – the same size as the original North Tower of the World Trade Center. But the needle – which will be have an antenna on the inside – is being described as a cable-stayed mast and a decorative spire as well. Architects have somewhat resolved the issue by having three height records: tallest occupied floor, architectural height (ground to roof), and ground to tip. This also does not take into consideration the CN Tower in Toronto, which at 1,815 is the tallest free standing structure in the Western Hemisphere but not technically a building. And One World Trade Center is still technically not a building because it is under construction. Nonetheless, architects and experts still herald the triumphant style and monolithic height of One World Trade Center.
The world’s tallest building, without argument, is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which opened in 2010 and stands at 2,717 feet – plus five feet for lights and antennas.