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November 9, 2013

Height of 1 World Trade Center debated

(Continued)

The designers of 1 World Trade Center had intended to enclose the mast’s communications gear in decorative cladding made of fiberglass and steel. But the developer removed that exterior shell from the design, saying it would be impossible to properly maintain or repair.

Without it, the question is whether the mast is now primarily just a broadcast antenna.

According to the architecture firm behind the building, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, the needle will have a communications platform for radio and television equipment, but it will also be topped with an LED beacon that will fire out a horizontal blaze of light visible from up to 50 miles away on a clear night — a feature that has been described as a crowning beacon of hope.

The developers said they planned to test the beacon last night.

Safarik said the committee might consider amending its height criteria during the Friday meeting — a move with much broader implications that could force a reshuffle in the rankings of the tallest buildings in the world.

If the matter weren’t so steeped in emotion it might have set off some of the good natured ribbing emblematic of the history of one-upmanship between New York and Chicago. But 1 World Trade Center is a monument to American resilience admired well beyond Manhattan.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to argue with the pride in building that new tower,” said 31-year-old software developer Brett Tooley, who works across the street from the Willis Tower. “Not only is it going to be the tallest building; it’s going to be one of the strongest buildings in the history of America. It’s a marvel of engineering.”

“We take our hats off to them out here in Chicago and the Midwest,” said Robert Wislow, chairman and chief executive of U.S. Equities, the firm that manages the Willis Tower. “And we welcome the building to the elite club of the tallest buildings in the world. Nobody’s looking at this like a competition.”

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