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Competing for the top of the world

Antennas on the tops of skyscrapers seem to be crucial in determining their height

Competing for the top of the world

The current record holder for the tallest building in the world should prepare for a new battle. Worldwide builders create ever larger skyscrapers and argue for the title of "the highest building in the world" by push everything to the extreme: the architecture as well as the definition of what is now considered top of a skyscraper.

In the competition for the highest building in the world, a crucial role is undertaken by a Chicago-based non-profit organization, established in 1969, ‘Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’ (CTBUH). Most decisions made by the organization are recognized as binding by most trade unions around the world.

Given the global construction competition, the international organization has significantly increased its criteria for the tallest buildings in the planning, design, construction and operation of skyscrapers.
For example, height is measured from the lowest point to the top, whether it is an architectural element or mobile antenna.

This is evidenced by the ongoing dispute about One World Trade Center. Built on the site of Ground Zero skyscraper, the new building may fall back in the race for the title of "tallest building in the Western Hemisphere". Last month the skyscraper reached height of 381 meters and thus surpassed the Empire State Building as the highest building in New York. The title of highest building in the Western Hemisphere also seemed secure: CTBUH planned to add the 124-meter antenna on the roof to the estimates of the building’s height.

Subsequently it was found that the developer and owner of the tower, Durst Organization, canceled the plan for enveloping the antenna. Thus, a metal structure that was supposed to carry the antenna is now useless. Whether it will be included in the official height measurement of the tower is a controversial issue.

Most owners of skyscrapers accept the authority of the CTBUH. The organization became known when in 1996 it decided that the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur will replace the Sears Tower in Chicago as the highest building in the world. It was ruled that the tops of the towers in Malaysia should be counted as part of the architecture, while the Sears Tower antennas were not considered. This made the Petronas Towers the new leader.

Disputes like these occur more frequently as architects from around the world use this rule and equip buildings with similar peaks.
Currently the world’s highest building is Burj Khalifa in Dubai. According CTBUH the central tower of the complex rises to 828 meters above the ground. Far behind in the rankings was the runner-up - Taipei 101 in Taiwan, with its height of 508 meters.

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