- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It took a panel of architects to mediate the fight, but New York City’s new One World Trade Center ranks as America’s tallest building, edging out longtime skyscraping champ Willis Tower in Chicago.

The ruling by the a special committee of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) ends several weeks of speculation and scrapping over whether the 408-foot antenna atop the Manhattan building — now being completed at the site of the World Trade Center —  could be counted towards the building’s symbolic 1,776 foot height. Without the antenna, One World Trade Center stands at 1,368 feet tall— 83 feet shorter than the 1,451-foot Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower until 2009.

The Willis Tower has a 278-foot antenna that is not counted in the building’s final height.

According to the CTBUH’s criteria, broadcast antennas that can be added or removed do not count toward a building’s final height. Spires that are deemed an integral part of a building’s aesthetic design, however, can be factored into a structure’s official height.

What it really comes down to is this: What are we measuring?” asked Antony Wood, the council’s executive director, during an NPR interview 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.”

For 40 years, the Willis Tower claimed the bragging rights as the tallest building in America. With the panel ruling Tuesday, not only is One World Trade Center America’s tallest building, but it ranks as the world’s third tallest, beating out Taiwan’s 1,667-foot-high Taipei 101.

Neither American contender comes anywhere close to the reigning world champ, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, a 2,717-foot-high behemoth with 163 floors of mixed office, residential and retail space.