Well, don’t that just beat all. Freedom Tower is now finished and, depending on who you ask, it may or may not have supplanted the Sears Tower as the tallest building in the United States.
Architects are a finicky bunch, aren’t they? There are a million tiny little details which are there to decide where a building ends. To most onlookers, the answer is simple enough: The building’s end point is where solid matter doesn’t exist and the air begins. Architects, though, have a few interpretations which would probably be taught in common philosophy courses. Yes, the building ends there, but does it END there?
When you build a new building, there are a lot of things to be taken into account: You have the basement, which could potentially run down a dozen or so stories. There’s the point where the roof ends, the point where the antennae end, and the point where the roof turns into the ceiling, because of course there is.
So here’s Freedom Tower, ready to be crowned the brand new jewel of the New York City skyline. Admittedly, it’s a beautiful piece, but its roof technically ends a couple dozen feet short of the Sears Tower. Or does it? Well, the Freedom Tower architects decided to put a nice little point on the top of Freedom Tower which is accessible to regular people. It’s little more than a giant antennae, but that’s not enough to keep the high-end architects who run all the fancy architecture publications and award shows from giving it a nice, new reclassification based on a technicality: That big antennae is a spire. That spire adds to the height of Freedom Tower, and voila, New York City is now the new skyscraper capitol of America.
Chicago boosters are naturally crying fowl. And they have every right to cry fowl, too. Freedom Tower is 541 meters tall. There are masts in a lot of places in the country that are actually taller than Freedom Tower. Texas alone has a whopping seven masts that tower above the 600 meter mark, and that’s just Texas! The number of states with at least one structure taller than Freedom Tower is in double digits. Presumably, most of these things have ladders for the premium cable guys to get up and down, thus ensuring usability by humans. No, anyone trying to climb up the masts isn’t going to be able to visit the bathroom for a smoke break, but hey, the ladders count. So why are those suckers not being given the same consideration afforded to the spire on Freedom Tower? Is it some form of concrete-and-glass-ism that affects the architectural elite?
Maybe I shouldn’t make too big a deal out of it, though, because it’s not going to matter all that much in the end. I’m thinking the architecture boys must also be a bunch of Americans, because both Freedom Tower and the Sears Tower bow down before the real king of North American towers: The CN Tower, in Toronto. You know, in Canada. One wonders why Ontario’s 553-meter behemoth isn’t brought into the conversation.