New York

1 World Trade Center's Tallest Building Record Challenged Over Mast Height

Just as 1 World Trade Center surpassed the Empire State Building in April, triumphantly claiming the title as New York City's tallest building, the building's historic goal to become the country's tallest is now being challenged.

The point of contention lies in 1 World Trade's planned mast and its functionality - is it a working antenna or symbolic spire?

The 408-foot mast had originally been accepted because of its plans for a "fiberglass and steel enclosure," but a decision to remove the cladding due to predicted maintenance difficulties is now threatening 1 World Trade Center's eventual claim as the country's tallest.

One school of thought consists of experts who believe antennas don't have a place in contributing to height calculation and are instead akin to decorative furniture, rather than architectural pieces. Others disagree.

But the building's chief architect David Childs belongs to the former group and has openly criticized the Port Authority's decision saying, "Eliminating this integral part of the building’s design and leaving an exposed antenna and equipment is unfortunate."

The New York Times reports on the debate over the disputed mast, which was set to hoist the 1,368-foot skyscraper to 1,776-feet of patriotic glory and overthrow the Willis Tower in Chicago as the tallest in the land. But reaching that symbolic Revolutionary number might also be at stake.

Willis Tower currently claims 1,451-feet of the sky, not including its own antennas.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat is apparently the official, international referee in such a pickle. A representative for the council explained the dilemma:

This definitely raises questions. Our criteria are very specific. We include spires and not antennas. If this is an antenna, it won’t be part of the height measurement. The cladding was an integral part of the design and made the extension part of the permanent look and feel of the building.

The building is set to reach its final days of construction in 2014. Regardless of what happens with the ambitious title, New Yorkers can at least find joy in the possibility of a Shake Shack sitting atop 1 World Trade Center's 3-story observation deck.

Beautiful, sunny spring day!