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WTC Spire Shines as Controversy Surrounds its Height

By Irene Plagianos | November 8, 2013 1:39pm | Updated on November 8, 2013 8:18pm
 The spire on top of One World Trade Center lit up for the first time Friday night, Nov. 8, 2013.
One World Trade Spire Lights Up
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FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The massive spire that sits atop One World Trade Center glowed multi-colored lights for the first time Friday evening.

The 408-foot beacon and spire lit up about at 6 p.m. with the lights changing between blue, purple and red.

With its 288 50-watt modules shining brightly, the spire, which is also a broadcast tower, was said to be visible from 50 miles away.

The goal is to eventually have the spire lit every night, adding some extra shine to the New York skyline, said a spokesman from The Durst Corporation, which co-owns 1 WTC with the Port Authority

But the bright lights come as controversy was swirling around the height of the building.

An organization known as the world’s arbiters of skyscraper height, The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, is currently deliberating whether the 1,776-foot tower, which includes the spire’s height, is actually the tallest building in the country, the Associated Press reported.

At issue is the spire. The committee of architects at the council consider a spire part of the building’s height, but they don’t count antennas in the official height equation.

The spire at the WTC was originally supposed to be encased in a fiberglass and steel covering, making it more clearly a continuation of the building’s design.

But since that design was scrapped, the spire, which does function as as a broadcast antenna, has come under scrutiny.

The debate now is whether the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, in Chicago still holds the tallest building in the country title.

The argument for the 1,450 Willis Tower is that it's 110 stories high, compared to the 104-story One WTC.

The organization — which is meeting in Chicago, but is comprised of architects from around the world — is supposed to announce its decision sometime next week, according to the Associated Press.

"The height is important in that it symbolizes that moment our democracy — 1776 — can't be much more important than that," said David Childs, the architect of One WTC, in a statement. "The thing about race for the height, that will always change. This one will always be 1,776."