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Chicago’s Willis Tower – No Longer the Highest Roof in the Western Hemisphere

Well, it had to happen someday. Though Chicago’s Willis Tower hasn’t held the honor of being the world’s tallest building since 1998 and dropped off the world’s 10 tallest list in 2016, the famous 1973 skyscraper had still held on to the claim of tallest roof height in the Western Hemisphere. Until now. As reported in Curbed Chicago on July 29, New York’s Central Park Tower overtook the 1,453-foot-tall Chicago icon on its way to an eventual final roof height of 1,550 feet.

Roof height took on special importance among Chicago skyscraper fans in 2013 when Willis officially lost its status as the tallest building in the U.S. to New York’s One World Trade Center under somewhat contentious circumstances. Despite the East Coast skyscraper’s considerably lower 1,368-foot roof, it managed to dethrone the Chicago tower by using a 1,776-foot-tall decorative spire. The twin antennas of Willis, however, were determined not to count toward official building height, per the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat rules.

© 2020 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 216


About this Author

Clifford J. Shapiro, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Chicago, Construction Law Attorney

Clifford J. Shapiro is a partner in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP and Chairperson of the Construction Law Practice Group which consists of attorneys in the firm’s 14 offices. He is a Fellow in the prestigious American College of Construction Lawyers, is ranked as a “Band One” construction attorney by Chambers USA, is listed as one of the top 10 construction lawyers in Illinois by Leading Lawyers and listed in the Best Lawyers in America. He is also a past president of the Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys.

Mr. Shapiro...