1 World Trade Center named the tallest building in the U.S. amid controversy

Updated Nov 14, 2013

It took a bit of convincing, but 1 World Trade Center will be the tallest building in the United States once it is completed.

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 10.25.03 AMOn Tuesday, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) ruled that at a height of 1,776 feet—symbolic of the year the Declaration of Independence was signed— 1 World Trade Center would surpass Chicago’s Willis (formerly Sears) Tower as the tallest building in not only the U.S., but all of North America.

The ranking will not be official until the building is completed and occupied which is expected to happen early next year.

One WTC does so even though its roof is 100 feet shorter than that of the Willis Tower. Without its 441-foot spire, 1WTC could not reach its symbolic height. And that’s why the ruling has proven controversial.

The CTBUH does not include antennas when calculating height. And though the spire will be used to transmit radio and TV signals, the council unanimously ruled that 1WTC’s spire is indeed a spire.

The CTBUH defines a spire as “a vertical element that completes the architectural expression of the building and is intended as permanent.” Meanwhile an antenna is defined as “a piece of functional-technical equipment that was subject to change.”

“We were very satisfied with the detailed information presented by the team, in particular, that which affirmed that the structure on top of the building is meant as a permanent architectural feature, not a piece of functional-technical equipment,” said CTBUH chairman Timothy Johnson.

In response, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the New York Times that he disagreed with the decision. â€śIf it looks like an antenna, acts like an antenna, then it is an antenna,” Emanuel told the Times. “At the Willis Tower, you have a panoramic view that is unmatched. You can’t get a view like that from an antenna.”

At 1,776 feet 1WTC will be the third-tallest building in the world, according to CTBUH. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is first at 2,717 feet and the Makkah Royal Clock Tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia is second at 1,972 feet.