Watch CBS News

One World Trade Center To Supplant Willis Tower As Nation's Tallest Building

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Depending on how you figure, the Willis Tower could be about to lose bragging rights as the nation's tallest building once the skyscraper at New York's Ground Zero is completed.

As WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger reports, the steel columns erected by workers at the new One World Trade Center building in New York are expected to make the building the tallest skyscraper in New York City Monday.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger reports


CBS New York reports workers will install columns that will make the unfinished skeleton of the building just over 1,250 feet tall. That is high enough to rise just over the peak of the roof of the observation deck at the Empire State Building.

Kevin Brass, communications manager at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, says eventually, One World Trade Center will stand taller than any North American building. That includes the Willis Tower.

"When it's finished, and it officially becomes a building by our standards, it will be the tallest building in our hemisphere," Brass said.

But there is an asterisk. One World Trade Center will only be taller than the Willis Tower, only if one counts the 408-foot spire that sits on its roof. Otherwise, it will still second after the Willis.

But unfortunately for Chicago, the council counts decorative spires toward the total height of a building, and does not count non-decorative TV antennas like the pair that rise on the roof of the Willis Tower.

The Willis Tower, which was known as the Sears Tower until a name change three years ago, was the world's tallest building from its completion in 1973 until 1996, when it was overtaken by the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1998.

But the Petronas Towers only stole the honor of the world's tallest building from the Sears Tower because of their decorative spires.

When some critics took issue with this criterion, the council altered its position to name three tallest buildings judged by different categories. The Petronas Towers won for the highest structural or architectural top, at 1,483 feet; the Sears Tower won for the highest roof, at 1,450 feet; and the north tower of the World Trade Center won for the highest spire or antenna, at 1,728 feet – until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Ultimately, Chicagoans' gripes with the criteria for the world's tallest building became moot. Taipei 101 in Taipei overtook any existing building in 2004, and in 2010, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai became the tallest manmade structure ever built, at 2,723 feet.

One World Trade Center will rise to 1,776 feet with its spire, and 1,368 feet without it.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.