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World's tallest building casts eye over Taipei

World's tallest building casts eye over Taipei

It's a building that prides itself on its "firsts." Not only is Taipei 101 now formally recognized as the tallest in the world, it also has the world's fastest elevator, the highest occupied floor and the world's largest "tuned mass damper" - an 800-ton wind damper that reduces sway from heavy winds or earthquakes by up to 40 percent.
The 508-meter-high building that was formally named as the world's tallest by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat last October 10, rises in eight canted sections, a design based on the Chinese lucky number "eight."
"Eight" symbolizes prosperity in Chinese, and the building's eight sections are designed to create rhythm in symmetry. The outer walls of each section are embellished with a "ruyi," a traditional Chinese symbol of fulfillment and contentment.
Officially unveiled by Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian on New Year's Eve, the gleaming building that took NT$58 billion and six years to build has also been likened by its developers to a shoot of bamboo rising from the ground, representing sturdiness and vigor.
Observatory
The spectacular office tower has 101 floors, an indoor observatory located on the 89th floor, and at its base, a posh five-story mall.
The 382.2-meter-high observatory, which also gives access to an outdoor viewing platform on the 91st floor, opened to the public at the beginning of January and gives visitors an unparalleled view of Taiwan's capital city and its surroundings.
"The opening of the Taipei 101 Observatory is like opening a window to the world," Taipei 101 President Harace Lin proudly declared on December 28, 2004 when the viewing perch was first unveiled to the media.
Reporters that day were the first to enjoy the experience that many find so compelling today.
The "sky city" tour commences at the fifth floor of the Taipei 101 Mall - the site of the ticket office. There, visitors queue up, pass through a metal detector, and hand their passes to attendants before boarding one of the two shuttle elevators.
Those lifts, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest elevators in the world, can carry up to 24 passengers each from the fifth floor to the 89th level. The spectacular trip takes only 39 seconds, moving at 1,010 meters per minute. Passengers of the state-of-the-art elevators can even "monitor" their ascent since information - from the lift's speed to the distance covered - are displayed on screen. A Taipei 101-shaped display even shows you a red capsule - that's your lift - zooming up the skyscraper. The trip feels seamless owing to the elevator's aerodynamic pressure-controlled design.
Upon reaching the 89th level, visitors are escorted by ushers to a station where they can borrow free audio guides available in six languages: Chinese, Taiwanese, Cantonese, English, Japanese, and German. The audio tour script helps you spot Taipei's landmarks, from the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and the Keelung River, to the Ssu-shou Mountains and the Tamshui River.
For even better views, four high-resolution telescopes imported from Japan and costing NT$300,000 each have been installed in the four corners of the Observatory. A 50-second view sets you back NT$20.
Another Observatory attraction was the NT$132-million Tuned Mass Damper - the largest and heaviest, and the only visible one in the world, developers said. Comprising 41 layers of 12.5-centimeter-thick solid steel plates, this massive engineering innovation reduces the sway of the building from wind pressure or earthquakes.
Weighing 660 metric tons and 5.5 meters in diameter, the gold-plated ball is suspended from 16 gold-plated steel cables from the 92nd floor down to the 87th floor.
At any given time, the Observatory can accommodate up to 1,396 people, said Steven Tsai, a member of Taipei 101 Observatory staff, on December 28.
"We will be monitoring the number of visitors at all times," Tsai said. "Guests can stay up there as long as they like."
Putting Taiwan on map
President Chen has called the building "a source of pride," and wants the 101-story building to lift Taiwan's image as China's booming economy and low wage rates draw more investment to the mainland.
Built by Taipei Financial Center Corp., and designed by architect C.Y. Lee, Taipei 101 edged out Malaysia's Petronas Twin Towers and Chicago's Sears Tower by virtue of a 60 meter spire to become known as the world's tallest.
But it is also located not far from a fault line in Taipei's Xinyi District, complicating efforts to lease its nearly 200,000 square meters in office space. Concerns about safety arose in March 2002, when construction was suspended for weeks after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake shook loose two cranes atop the building, killing two workers and three people on the street below.
The builders say that the structural standards applied in designing the tower include "the ability to withstand the strongest earthquakes in a 2,500-year cycle, and to resist wind forces of more than 60 meters per second."
Still, new tenants wanted to see for themselves before making commitments.
"Most of them wanted to see the completed building first, then decide on whether they would lease it," said Calvin Wang, managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle, Taipei 101's lead leasing agent.
Wang estimated at the beginning of January that 30 percent of the floor space had been leased, mostly in mid- and low-zones.
But as Taipei's property market strengthens, Wang believed his property's brand appeal will eventually prevail.
"It's a landmark address. If you are asked where your office is located, you simply say Taipei 101. It's simply the most prestigious corporate address in the country."
This report was compiled from articles written by Taiwan News staff reporter Marie Feliciano and information from the building's Web site.


Updated : 2021-10-23 00:57 GMT+08:00