The fate of One World Trade Center's claim to tallest tower in the U.S. once it is completed could be challenged if the 408 foot antenna spire at the top is not enclosed in an ornamental white shell. The situation is described in the Wall Street Journal article Pointed Spat Over World Trade Spire by Eliot Brown. Brown said architects at Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP "have strongly criticized the move as removing a crucial architectural element."
Developer Doug Durst, chairman of Durst Organization, Inc. said it would be difficult to maintain the shell around the antenna spire. Durst is working with the Port Authority to construct an antenna for broadcasters on top of One World Trade Center. Durst said removing the shell would save about $20 million.
Web site NewYorkCBSLocal.com has this quote from Kevin Bass, spokesperson for the Council on Tall Buildings, in the article Change means One World Trade Center Might Not Be American's Tallest Building: "We count spires toward the height, if it's part of the architecture, it's part of the actual design of the building, we count it toward the height, but antennas, or any other apparatus that are simply put on top of a building, we do not count toward the height."
Maintenance of the shell is not a trivial issue. When I was working with stations on the World Trade Center I saw problems with reflected power when the radome surrounding the antenna lost its ability to shed water. Resurfacing the panels wasn't easy there even with a relatively large amount of flat roof space below the mast.
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One World Trade Center is owned by the New York Port Authority, while the broadcast facility that includes the antenna spire at the top is managed by the Durst Organization.