Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Trade tower reaches symbolic height

The 1,454-foot Empire State Building, left, and the 1,776-foot One World Trade Centre (AP/Richard Drew)
The 1,454-foot Empire State Building, left, and the 1,776-foot One World Trade Centre (AP/Richard Drew)

The World Trade Centre's rebirth in New York City has long revolved around creating symbolism on the site of tragedy - a 1,776ft skyscraper that is a homage and a bold statement about looking forward.

Now the new 1 World Trade Centre has reached its final height - a nod to America's founding year - with the lowering of a silvery spire from a crane.

The sleek building officially took its place as another signature of the city's skyline and, with some argument, the nation's tallest tower.

"It's a pretty awesome feeling," Juan Estevez, a project manager for Tishman Construction, said from a temporary platform on the roof where workers watched with shouts of joy.

Tourist Carol Johnston gazed up at the structure from a nearby building. "It's sort of a renewal ... like, 'You can't keep us down','" she said.

For New Yorkers who have followed the World Trade Centre rebuilding after the September 11 2001 terror attacks destroyed the twin towers, the spire's completion was an impressive milestone.

The skyscraper, expected to open next year, is the focal point among the buildings designed to replace the twin towers. When master plans were unveiled in December 2002, architect Daniel Libeskind envisaged the tower "restoring the spiritual peak of the city, creating an icon that speaks to our vitality in the face of danger and our optimism in the aftermath of tragedy".

It is the tallest skyscraper in the US and third tallest in the world, although building experts dispute whether the pinnacle is an antenna, a crucial distinction in measuring the building's height. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a US-based organisation considered an authority on such records, says an antenna is something simply added to the top of a tower that can be removed. By contrast, a spire is something that is part of the building's architectural design.

If it didn't have the spire, 1 World Trade Centre would be shorter than the Willis Tower in Chicago, which stands at 1,45 ft and has the title of tallest building in the US, not including its antennas. The world's tallest building, topping 2,700ft is in Dubai.

"It will be a beacon of hope, just like the Statue of Liberty," said Scott Rechler, vice chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the lower Manhattan trade centre site.

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