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WTC 1 Surpasses Empire State, Becomes NYC's Tallest Building

It's taken two different designs, dozens of revisions and nine years, but One World Trade Center has finally become what it was intended to be when it was first conceived after the 9/11 attacks: the tallest building in New York.

That milestone construction workers achieved Monday, as their ongoing work is expected to ultimately make the building the tallest in the Western Hemisphere and the third tallest in the world once the last bolt is tightened in late 2013 or early 2014.

For now, though, leaders of the three key entities with ties to the tower gathered on its highest habitable floor to celebrate it reaching new heights. The Port Authority, which owns the World Trade Center site, Tishman Construction, which is building the tower and which built the Twin Towers in the 1960's, and the Durst Organization, which has booked tenants into One World Trade Center, all sent their top managers to a ceremony on the tower's 71st floor at 2:00 P.M.

That's when workers on the uppermost floor of the building so far, the 100th, put a vertical beam in place, marked 1,271 feet. That is the height, above street level, of the structure, for now, bringing it 21 feet above the top floor of the Empire State Building's limestone structure. When its metal pinnacle is factored in to its overall height, the Empire State Building is 1,453 feet.

One World Trade will surpass that height once its tower is added next year.

"We still have yards to go before the goal," David Childs, the architect of One World Trade, told PIX11 News, "By that I mean the capping of the tower." When that happens, the building will be 1,776 feet in height, an intentionally patriotic elevation.

One World Trade Center had originally been designed by the German architect Daniel Liebskind in 2002, but security concerns and complaints from the former leaseholder of the World Trade Center site, Larry Silverstein, led to the redesign that is nearly fully erected now.

The rise above the Empire State Building coincides with the eve of the anniversary of the killing of the mastermind behind the destruction of the original World Trade Center, Osama Bin Laden. The significance of the milestone was not lost on the participants in the ceremony marking the elevation of One World Trade to 1271 feet, but the building's architect pointed out that he designed the new tower to keep alive the spirit of the towers that fell.

"The footprint is the same, the height [of the occupied floors] is the same, the silhouette is the same," David Childs said. "People will be able to go to the memorial, and look up and say 'It's like the old buildings."

From workers cutting planks around the corner from the record-setting height commemoration ceremony on the 71st floor, to the three-inch gap between parts of that floor and the steel and glass wall that surrounds it, there was no shortage of reminders that One World Trade is still not completed.

For the people gathered to acknowledge its height, One World Trade's lack of completion is inconsequential. They applauded when the beam painted with the term "1271 ft." was bolted into place, and as David Childs pointed out, "Lower Manhattan receives a height it has been without for too long. People miss that."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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