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New York's One World Trade Center Declared Tallest Building In U.S.

One World Trade Center — the skyscraper that now rises from the site of the Twin Towers, destroyed during the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11 — has been declared the tallest building in the U.S. by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

Coming in at 1,776 feet tall, the World Trade Center beat out the Willis Tower in Chicago. At issue was whether a 408-foot needle that sits atop the New York building was an architectural top or a removable radio antenna. If it had been deemed an antenna, the honor would have gone to Chicago.

As NPR's David Schaper and Joel Rose reported, the architectural details have stoked opinions in both cities.

During a press conference in New York, CTBUH Chairman Tim Johnson said that when he visited the World Trade Center, it became "very clear it was a spire not an antenna."

Johnson, who is also a partner at the global architecture firm NBBJ, said the spire was built to be permanent and that in recent days when the building started turning on its lights, it was evident the spire was an integral part of the building's architecture.

The CTBUH is widely recognized as the world authority on building heights. Tuesday's finding makes One World Trade Center the third-tallest building in the world, behind the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel in Mecca.

And Johnson notes that by another measure — tallest occupied floor — the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, continues to be the tallest building in the United States.

Here's a graphic that doesn't include One World Trade Center but shows how some of the world's tallest buildings stack up.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The world's tallest buildings by architectural top.
The world's tallest buildings by architectural top.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.