The Freedom Tower
In 2013, construction workers in New York City attached the spire to the top of the One World Trade Center skyscraper, more commonly known as Freedom Tower, vaulting the building to a patriotically-symbolic height of 1,776 feet.
One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) in New York City is now the world's third tallest skyscraper.
With the additional 408 feet of height provided by the newly-installed spire, Freedom Tower became the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the third tallest skyscraper in the world, behind the Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates (2,717 feet tall) and the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel in Saudi Arabia (1,971 feet tall). It's simply amazing to stare up at these awe-inspiring pieces of architecture, but it's only natural that a bit of fear comes with their incredible height. To get a better idea of just how high these sprawling structures are, check out this terrifying video from a camera attached to the Freedom Tower spire as it was lowered on top of the skyscraper on Friday, May 10. Of course, building occupants probably won't ever find themselves in the type of situation those construction workers had to brave, but the idea of being so far from the ground below can be a little frightening. It's something we all try not to think about too often, but the fact is, individuals who live or work in buildings of this magnitude can potentially find themselves in severe danger as a result of a wide array of unfortunate situations ranging from natural disasters to fire to terrorist attacks. With the physical and mental scars American citizens received on Sept. 11, 2001 far from healed, safety is obviously a paramount concern with Freedom Tower – and every skyscraper in the world, for that matter. One World Trade Center won’t open until 2014, but when the public finally gets a firsthand glimpse of the inside of the building, they can rest assured that steps were taken to protect their safety. The Freedom Tower was constructed with an "innovative mix of architecture, structure, safety and sustainability," according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. With a fortified concrete base and state-of-the-art safety systems that exceed New York City building code standards, the architects and builders on the project took safety very seriously. In addition to creating an incredibly strong building with maximum security, high-rise fire safety has been sufficiently addressed as well. In order to facilitate firefighters and emergency responders, the skyscraper has extra-wide pressurized stairs, low-level emergency lighting, and concrete protection for all sprinklers and emergency risers. "All of the building’s life-safety systems – stairs, communications, risers, sprinklers, elevators – are encased in a core wall that is three feet thick in most places," a fact sheet from the building's architectural firm, SOM, states. In the event that occupants become trapped in the building during a fire despite these safety measures, Freedom Tower is a suitable height – 104 stories tall – for the use of personal rescue devices on all but the very top floors. The leading skyscraper escape devices hitting the market this year are designed to accommodate rescues up to 100 stories high, so the majority of the people in Freedom Tower can put their own backup plan in place by purchasing such a device. While there is always the possibility for disaster, those who will frequent Freedom Tower should know that they are in good hands thanks to the concern for safety that went into the design of the building – especially if they take the initiative to keep a high-rise rescue device in their office, just in case.