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Chicago (AFP) – Citing its role as a “symbol of resurgence,” a panel declared Tuesday that New York’s One World Trade Center will be the tallest U.S. skyscraper once it is completed, topping the former Sears Tower in Chicago.

Architects at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat agreed that the center’s 124.4 meter (408 foot) antenna was a permanent architectural feature of the building and should be counted in determining its height.

“The design of One World Trade Center, as explained to us, reinforces its role as a symbol of resurgence on this important site,” said CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood.

“In particular, the spire which holds the beacon light, shining out at the symbolic height of 1,776 feet, is especially poignant — echoing the similarly symbolic beacon atop the Statue of Liberty across the water.”

The Declaration of Independence, when the U.S. first broke from colonial power Britain, was written in 1776, so the height was chosen “to reaffirm the principles behind the nation’s founding in the face of attacks that destroyed the original World Trade Center towers,” the CTBUH said.

The One World Trade Center is built on the site of the original World Trade Center, whose iconic twin towers were toppled on September 11, 2001.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks, including 2,753 in New York who are commemorated in a memorial that sits at the base of the new tower.

Without the antenna, the new building’s 417 meter (1,368 foot) height would be topped by the former Sears Tower in Chicago, now officially named the Willis Tower, which rises 442 meters (1,450 feet) from the ground.

In deciding the title of the tallest U.S. skyscraper, the committee looked at three criteria: the height to the “architectural top,” which includes spires but not “functional-technical equipment,” the highest occupied floor, and the height to the absolute highest point on the building, including antennas and flag poles.

Questions arose around a design change that led to the removal of architectural cladding on the antenna topping the tower, with some arguing it could no longer be considered a “spire” without it.

But the CTBUH ruled it was a spire and could be counted in the height.

Responding to Tuesday’s decision, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel defended his city’s skyline, telling reporters that, with “the Willis Tower, you will have a view that’s unprecedented in its beauty, its landscape and its capacity to capture something.”

That’s “something you can’t do from an antenna. Not that I’m competitive,” he joked.

Neither skyscraper comes close to the world record, which is held by the 830-meter-high (2,723-feet-high) Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

But at completion, the new One World Trade Center will likely be the third tallest building in the world, after the Dubai skyscraper and the Makkah Royal Clock Tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which stands at 601 meters (1,972 feet), the CTBUH said.


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