The question was whether the mast was now just a broadcast antenna
November 12, 2013 9:49 AM   Subscribe

 
I am so irrationally annoyed by this. It's tall as fuck without the silly spire, the symbolic height=year thing is just goofy, and... like, if I made a 2,000 foot spire with no space inside, it wouldn't be the tallest 'building' in America, it would be the tallest... spire thingy in America, right?

Basically this is totally cheating
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:53 AM on November 12, 2013 [22 favorites]


It's never a good idea to have an organization name that sounds like you've just slipped on an icy sidewalk and had the breath knocked out of you.

CTBUH
"Holy crap, are you okay, Stu?"
posted by Etrigan at 9:55 AM on November 12, 2013 [15 favorites]


Seriously, the building is so tall and straight and shiny that it actually gives me slight vertigo to look up at it.

But then, I almost had a panic attack watching Man on Wire due to my crippling fear of heights, soooo
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:56 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


it is the height of the original trade center's north tower. The south tower was a few feet shorter.

Wait what? How many feet exactly. I actually got into a fight over this as a kid, I maintained they were the same height and my friend disagreed, looks like I owe him an apology.

Counting the "spire" seems kinda bogus to me as well but I'm glad we got the record back even if we had to bend the rules a little
posted by Ad hominem at 9:58 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Basically this is totally cheating

There is plenty of "cheating" in this category, and it's been going on since around 100 years ago when we started doing these ridiculous whip-out-your-buildings-and-measure competitions.
posted by savetheclocktower at 9:58 AM on November 12, 2013 [22 favorites]


if I made a 2,000 foot spire with no space inside, it wouldn't be the tallest 'building' in America, it would be the tallest... spire thingy in America, right?

You would have made the CN Tower (well, it's only 1,815 feet). It used to be billed as the tallest "free-standing structure" in the world, at least when it was described here in Canada, although it's long been eclipsed in height.
posted by good in a vacuum at 9:58 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Though I was homering against hope that the Sears/Willis would win this particular just-barely-metaphorical dick-measuring contest, arguing that the spire is different than a broadcast antenna annoys me even more because I prefer to shut people up by saying that the tallest structure in the western hemisphere be in North Dakota.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:58 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Isn't it cheating in a very traditional way though, given the history of the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building? The secret spire seems like a similar gimmick.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:58 AM on November 12, 2013


Can you imagine if they voted against counting the spire as part of the building height? Every member of the council would be pilloried.
posted by miyabo at 10:00 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ad hominem, you can read about the two towers here. South Tower was shorter by about 6 feet.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:01 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "spire" vs. "antenna" debate seems silly. I heard a great observation on NPR about the controversy of determining building height. Essentially, one has to determine if the record should be how far man above the plane of the earth a man can stand, or how far above the plane of the earth a man can build.
posted by sixpack at 10:01 AM on November 12, 2013


Also, I maintain that "highest occupied floor" is the true measure. If I can't go to an observation deck and see how fucking high I am, if I can't have a panic attack in a tiny glass case, then what's the use?

And if everyone treated that as the important thing, nobody would care if you stuck a slightly taller stick on the roof of your really-goddamn-tall building.
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:02 AM on November 12, 2013 [21 favorites]


That decision seems like some straight-up bullshit. Basically, it sounds like because they put a beacon light (not the airplane warning thing) up there, it's an architectural element instead of an antenna. So, if the Willis Tower wants to reclaim the throne, all they'd really have to do is put a fancy LED thing up on top of the communications masts, right? It seems like the decision is way more of a political thing to let the building be 1776 feet tall than anything having to do with the functionality of anything, and all the moves seem to be gamesmanship on the part of the architect and builder to get that number enshrined as the final height. If the building isn't 1776 feet tall, David Childs (the architect) and the developer would get all kinds of shit for blowing the symbolism of the winning competition proposal.
posted by LionIndex at 10:03 AM on November 12, 2013


And if everyone treated that as the important thing,
posted by savetheclocktower


Eponysterical.
posted by mattbucher at 10:05 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


On the one hand, the spire thing is clearly cheating.

On the other hand, The Sears Tower isn't the "Sears" tower anymore so whatever.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:07 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Essentially, one has to determine if the record should be how far man above the plane of the earth a man can stand, or how far above the plane of the earth a man can build.

Yes! I was just looking it up, because that quote distilled the entire argument for me:
"What it really comes down to is this: What are we measuring?" asks [Antony] Wood, [the council's executive director]. "If we are measuring man's ability to put materials above the plane of the earth, then it should just be material, irrespective of what that material or function is. Or, are we measuring man's ability to put man above the plane of the earth? Are we going with the highest occupied floor? Or something in between?"
posted by gladly at 10:07 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]




Isn't it cheating in a very traditional way though, given the history of the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building? The secret spire seems like a similar gimmick.

True, but the tops of the Chrysler and Empire State buildings are much more obviously "spires" that continue the architectural design of the building, at least to me. The "spire" at the top of the Freedom tower doesn't really look all that different from the antennae on top of the Willis Tower, nor does it seem particularly connected to or dependent on the design of the tower below it.
posted by LionIndex at 10:08 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


The building is going to be like the 9/11 ride at Epcot Center, isn't it?
posted by thelonius at 10:10 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


If it's not 1,776 symbolic-freedom-loving feet high, the terrorists win. AMURKA! WOOO!
posted by emjaybee at 10:11 AM on November 12, 2013


The building is going to be like the 9/11 ride at Epcot Center, isn't it?

Is that the one with Ellen DeGeneres?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:14 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I work in a building adjacent to One World Trade, and agree that counting the spire makes this is a meaningless designation. That said, it sounds like this concept has long been gamed, so I can't really muster any concern over it.

One cool thing, though, I have a pretty privileged view of the tower from my apartment, and didn't realize that they were going to dress it up with LEDs the way they did. I don't think they lit those up until some time last week, but it makes the spire look really cool, particularly since the colors change all the time.
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 10:14 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, if the Willis Tower wants to reclaim the throne, all they'd really have to do is put a fancy LED thing up on top of the communications masts, right?

No, because the Sears Tower wasn't designed with it.

The whole "architectural top" thing is purest horseshit; just look at their own figure. Only a lawyer could stand there with a straight face and insist that the Petronas Towers or the Zifeng Tower are taller than the Sears Tower. Either use the top of the damn building or the highest occupied floor.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:20 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


What's so symbolic about the height being 541m? Is this tower commemorating the Plague of Justinian?
posted by Thing at 10:21 AM on November 12, 2013 [33 favorites]


No, because the Sears Tower wasn't designed with it.

Eh, that seems specious. If it were possible to add a two-story penthouse to the top of the Willis Tower, is there any reason that wouldn't raise the highest habitable floor two stories? Just because the building wasn't originally designed that way? The spire at the Freedom Tower was originally supposed to be clad (which would make it more of an actual spire), but that all got removed. Obviously my opinion doesn't count for anything here, but it seems like the facts on the ground should matter more than the original design intent.

It's just odd that a total brain fart of a design rationale is such a big deal. As if there's some meaningful conversion factor for calendar year--> unit of length. Or if Jesus' birth had been determined to be a year earlier, the building would have to be one foot taller or something. What?
posted by LionIndex at 10:30 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


...dress it up with LEDs the way they did.

I just searched for a picture of the tower illuminated, and google's autocomplete suggested "one world trade center illuminati". Which is a rabbit hole that I really can't wait to explore.

It's a cool-looking building, though; until today I don't think I'd seen a photo of it with the outer skin complete. Unexpectedly, I like the real-life photos as much as I liked the renders when it was announced.

(I'd vote for "highest occupiable floor" as the most sensible measurement, although even that could be made a bit woolly by arguing about miniscule, open-air "observation decks" atop spindly ladders.)
posted by metaBugs at 10:31 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


The memorial ummm pits look pretty nice too.

I'll probably wait a few years for the crowds to die down before I go check it out though.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:35 AM on November 12, 2013


It's just odd that a total brain fart of a design rationale is such a big deal. As if there's some meaningful conversion factor for calendar year--> unit of length. Or if Jesus' birth had been determined to be a year earlier, the building would have to be one foot taller or something. What?

POPULATION      12,198
ELEVATION          849
FOUNDED           1886
----------------------
TOTAL           14,933

posted by theodolite at 10:37 AM on November 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


... like, if I made a 2,000 foot spire with no space inside, it wouldn't be the tallest 'building' in America, it would be the tallest... spire thingy in America, right?

Its called the CN Tower.

And, as I learned in third grade.....its the tallest BUILDING DAMNIT!
posted by cacofonie at 10:48 AM on November 12, 2013


Yeah, One World Trade has, in my opinion, failed pretty spectacularly in the symbology department by making most of their height claim from unoccupiable floors. I agree with the above - if I can't go up there and look down it's just feeble lawyerball.

THAT SAID: I was much more impressed with One World Trade in person than I have been in renderings or even photographs. It's not as impressive/oppressive as the Twin Towers were but it really is a lovely building. I'm surprised.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:53 AM on November 12, 2013


Once again, the Midwest gets shafted.
posted by Area Man at 10:53 AM on November 12, 2013




This problem falls under the classification: IARPTGASB-INW


I Am Repeatedly Pressing The Give-A-Shit-Button - It's Not Working
posted by lalochezia at 10:58 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


It may be labeled "BACK" on your browser.
posted by Etrigan at 11:04 AM on November 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


Jesus, that Beijing tower that ocshwar linked is practically NSFW.
posted by echo target at 11:06 AM on November 12, 2013


I got chided by my MIL for posting a link to it on Facebook.
posted by ocschwar at 11:09 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Should be measured to the highest public observation deck. Because screw your tall building if I can't go up there.
posted by ryanrs at 11:11 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought the term "vanity height" was well-deployed in the graphic link.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:15 AM on November 12, 2013


ocschwar: "It's not the size of yoru skyscraper. It's what you do with it that matters. "

It's a mushroom! We swear!
posted by zarq at 11:18 AM on November 12, 2013


Ad Hominem, against my better judgment I took my mother-in-law to view the memorial earlier this year. It's not something I will be doing again, entirely because of the tourists that go there.
There are many very cool things about it, most notably the algorithmic method they used to determine name placement on the plaques. However, for many many people it just seems to be another place you visit when you come to the city, and all sense of gravity is completely lost. It is really off-putting to be in a place that should be solemn, and to have people clamoring for photo opportunities all around you. Nothing to be done about it, but I don't recommend it.
Perhaps if there is a time when the crowds subside, that won't be an issue any longer.
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 11:33 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I call shenanigans. No one gets excited about a spire.
posted by mochapickle at 11:43 AM on November 12, 2013


I call shenanigans. No one gets excited about a spire.

Allow me to introduce you to the people of Dublin circa 2003, because we like to name things!

"On the site of the Pillar, a new monument was erected in January 2003. Officially named the Spire of Dublin, this tall needle-like structure has already received a number of nicknames including The Spike, The Stiletto in the Ghetto, The Nail in the Pale (see the Pale) and the Pin in the Bin. To erect the new monument, a notorious 1980s monument to the personified river Liffey, Anna Livia, was removed from nearby on O'Connell St. The river was represented by a woman sitting on a slope with water running down past her, bubbling. It rapidly came to be nicknamed the Floozie in the Jacuzzi, the Hoor in the Sewer ('hoor' is a dialectal Irish version of 'whore'), Bidet Mulligan (play on the song Biddy Mulligan) and Viagra Falls.
posted by TwoWordReview at 12:02 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


> If it were possible to add a two-story penthouse to the top of the Willis Tower, is there any reason that wouldn't raise the highest habitable floor two stories?

If they added a two-story penthouse to the top of the Willis Tower, that would raise the building's height in all categories (provided they moved the antennae to the top of the penthouse). The fact that the CTBUH uses three (previously four) different measures just illustrates how complicated this stuff is, and how much of it has to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

The phrase "tallest building" is ambiguous. You can footnote each of those words with explanations, but half the words in those explanations would be ambiguous. Judgment calls have to be made. Before you get too angry about any of this, realize that this is a silly metric anyway; and, though the fact we can build this high is wondrous to consider, to a large extent we're a silly species for quibbling over dozens of feet like this.

As far as I know, CTBUH does not consider any of their three measures to be the definitive one. I think it's odd that people pay most attention to the entrance-to-architectural-top measure, but that's the deal. An antenna is not considered an architectural feature. A spire is. CTBUH decided that the spire should count because it's an intended-to-be-permanent feature of the building, and the fact that it also has a functional/technical use doesn't detract from that.

The fact that they had originally planned to construct a radome around the spire just shows that they were aware of this silly distinction and planned to sidestep it entirely. The spire/antenna distinction might seem like splitting hairs, but then I also think it's splitting hairs to distinguish between a naked spire and a spire encased in a thin candy shell.
posted by savetheclocktower at 12:36 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"tallest building in the western hemisphere"

They have already lost. Even with cooking the books it's barely in the top ten.

The irony is that Dubai can only build the world's REAL tallest building because Murrica sends all their money to a dictatorship in return for oil.

Building a 1776ft high mast and calling it freedom is missing the, er, BIGGER picture.
posted by EnterTheStory at 1:03 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


...I'm glad we got the record back even if we had to bend the rules a little…

That is so New York. *eyeroll*
posted by wenestvedt at 1:09 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


EnterTheStory, Dubai didn't build squat. South Korea built that thing. Which is also true of one of the Petronas towers. And a whole bunch of other huge mega-skyscrapers all over the world.

I don't get being so proud of something that you didn't actually, you know, do. It would be like me paying Usain Bolt to win a race and then wearing his medal myself. Silly. I mean of course if I had the money I would do that, but it would still be silly.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:14 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


But all they are is signs of wealth. Paying for it is the point.
posted by EnterTheStory at 1:22 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would be like me paying Usain Bolt to win a race and then wearing his medal myself. Silly. I mean of course if I had the money I would do that, but it would still be silly.

Doesn't anyone who's a Proud Sponsor of thee Olympics basically do exactly this?
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:26 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Daniel Plainview said it best

"Here, if you have a skyscraper, and I have a skyscraper, and I have a spire. There it is, that's a spire, you see? You watching?. And my spire reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to rise above your skyscraper... I... eclipse... your... skyscraper!"
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 1:42 PM on November 12, 2013


As a New Yorker, I think the new WTC is a complete nothing of a building; and since I thought nothing should have been built there, and that tall buildings in the Internet Age are completely stupid, I'm not sure what to think...

BTW, greetings from me to all who remember me.
posted by NiceParisParamus at 1:42 PM on November 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


I want 30 thousand foot tall, 200 thousand foot diameter building with elevators everywhere because elevators are the safest form of travel.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:48 PM on November 12, 2013


That is so New York. *eyeroll*

You know we play this shit up for the tourists right? After we got their money and they are gone it is all hugs and singing Bob Marley songs around the garbage can fires.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:02 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Confession: it *was* a bit cool when, finally, after waiting and waiting, the WTC spire was raised, and the tipy top became visiable above the big wide chimney on the four story school building across the street...
posted by NiceParisParamus at 2:08 PM on November 12, 2013


If Kong can't climb it, it's not part of the building.
posted by homunculus at 8:06 PM on November 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh my god, they really named it Freedom Tower? This country is so embarrassing.
posted by heyho at 8:08 PM on November 12, 2013


Pulling the foreskin out totally counts.
posted by yoink at 8:21 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, hey, look what the cat dragged in.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:00 PM on November 12, 2013


heyho, the name was abandoned for One WTC a few years ago. The name was one of the many aspects of the rebuilding that became a political football.

As far as I know, CTBUH does not consider any of their three measures to be the definitive one.

I think this is an instructive interview with Kevin Brass, editor of the Council's journal:

We take these discussions very seriously. Designations of “tallest” are very important to cities, countries and everyone involved with a building. It’s about more than bragging rights. These buildings are icons and play an important role in the identity and culture of a city, as well as serving as an attraction for business and tourism. We’ve developed a detailed formula for measuring buildings, taking into account very specific criteria. We’ve really set ourselves up as an impartial arbiter of these discussions. When we set a height, it is typically determined by reviewing the drawings or detailed discussions with the participants. We go to extraordinary lengths to make sure we accurately reflect the buildings’ true height. But still, there might be nuances in dispute, which is why we established a height committee to review any issues.

In essence, this is one particularly public and particularly extreme aspect where the social interface of architecture is evident, and the Council seems to delight, with sobriety, in celebrating it.
posted by dhartung at 12:21 AM on November 13, 2013


"The design height of the One World Trade Center was set ... to reaffirm the principles behind the nation’s founding[.]"

Ah yes, the oft-skipped zeroth amendment: "Look how big we are." IN YOUR FACE, GEORGE III!
posted by sldownard at 4:53 AM on November 13, 2013


Now the waiting begins - who will be the Amurka-hating architerrorist who designs a building that can be occupied at 1,777 feet?
posted by headnsouth at 6:47 AM on November 13, 2013


Ah yes, the oft-skipped zeroth amendment: "Look how big we are."

Look how big we are if you interpret the rules both narrowly and counter-intuitively! WOOOO!!!
posted by dirtdirt at 6:57 AM on November 13, 2013


There's a friggen height committee. To discuss arcane elements of how high a building really is. That is so cool...And I'm sitting at a desk working an IT gig...I feel so denied.
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:54 AM on November 13, 2013


Hey, whatever embiggens my dick.
posted by telstar at 10:35 AM on November 13, 2013


IN YOUR FACE, GEORGE III!

That's why he decided to stack those I's:

       I
       I
George I

posted by yoink at 11:02 AM on November 13, 2013


« Older Places Are Made Of A Thousand Stories   |   The girls who went away, and the house they left... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments