Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH – Standing tall at 1,972 feet (601.07 meter), the Abraj Al-Bait Tower, also known as Makkah Royal Clock Tower, has been declared the second tallest building in the world by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, considered a world authority on supersized skyscrapers. Only Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is 2,717 feet (828.14 meter) tall, surpasses the Makkah Clock Tower in height.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat announced its decision at simultaneous news conferences in New York and Chicago on Tuesday.
It recognized the under construction One World Trade Center in New York— at 1,776 feet (541 meter) high — as the tallest skyscraper in the United States and the third tallest building in the world.
Makkah Clock Tower already holds several world records. It is the tallest clock tower in the world and has the world's largest clock face.
The structure has the second largest floor area of any structure in the world with 1,500,000 m2 (16,150,000 sq ft) of floorspace, surpassed only by New Century Global Centre in Chengdu, China, which has a floor area of 1,700,000 m2 (18,300,000 sq ft). Measuring the height of a building would seem to be a simple thing, but in the case of the new World Trade Center tower it is complicated by the 408-foot (124.36-meter)-tall needle atop the skyscraper's roof.
The Council's verdict rested on a conclusion that the needle should be counted as part of the building's total height. Without it, the tower would be just 1,368 feet (416.97 meters) tall, the same height as the original World Trade Center. That would make it smaller than not only the Willis Tower, but also a 1,397-foot (425.81-meter) apartment building being built a short subway ride away near Central Park.
Speaking at his office in New York, council chairman Timothy Johnson, an architect at the global design firm NBBJ, said the decision by the 25-member height committee had more "tense moments" than usual, given the skyscraper's importance as a patriotic symbol.
"I was here on 9/11. I saw the buildings come down," he said. Over the past few months, the Council had hinted that it might be open to changing its standards for measuring ultra-tall buildings, given a trend toward developers adding "vanity height" to towers with huge, decorative spires.
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