Taipei 101
Taipei 101, also known as the Taipei Financial Center, is a landmark skyscraper located in Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan. The building was the world’s tallest (with occupiable floors) until it was surpassed in height by the Burj Khalifa on July 21, 2007. The skyscraper was officially the tallest building until the opening of the Burj Khalifa on the 4th of January 2010. Taipei 101, designed by C.Y. Lee & Partners and constructed primarily by KTRT Joint Venture and numerous subcontractors including Samsung C&T received the 2004 Emporis Skyscraper Award and was hailed as one of the Seven New Wonders of the World ( Newsweek magazine, 2006) and Seven Wonders of Engineering ( Discovery Channel, 2005). The tower has served as an icon of modern Taiwan ever since its opening. Fireworks launched from Taipei 101 feature prominently in international New Year’s Eve broadcasts and the structure appears frequently in travel literature and international media.

Taipei 101 comprises 101 floors above ground and 5 floors underground. The name of the tower reflects its floor count and carries symbolic meanings alluding to technology and Asian tradition. Its postmodernist approach to style incorporates traditional design elements and gives them modern treatments. The tower is designed to withstand typhoons and earthquakes. A multi-level shopping mall adjoining the tower houses hundreds of fashionable stores, restaurants and clubs. Taipei 101 is owned by the Taipei Financial Center Corporation (TFCC) and managed by the International division of Urban Retail Properties Corporation based in Chicago. The name originally planned for the building, Taipei World Financial Center, was derived from the name of the owner.

Taipei 101 was the first building in the world to break the half-kilometer mark in height and the first record-setting skyscraper constructed in the new millennium. The record it claimed for greatest height from ground to pinnacle now rests with the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Taipei 101’s records for roof height and highest occupied floor briefly passed to the Shanghai World Financial Center in 2009, which in turn yielded these records as well to the Burj. Taipei 101 displaced the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as the tallest building in the world by 57.2 m (188 ft), it also displaced the 85-story, 347.5 m (1,140 ft) Tuntex Sky Tower in Kaohsiung as the tallest building in Taiwan and the 51-story, 244.2 m (801 ft) Shin Kong Life Tower as the tallest building in Taipei. Various sources, including the building’s owners, give the height of Taipei 101 as 508.0 m (1,667 ft), roof height and top floor height as 448.0 m (1,470 ft) and 438.0 m (1,437 ft). This lower figure is derived by measuring from the top of a 1.2 m (4 ft) platform at the base. CTBUH standards, though, include the height of the platform in calculating the overall height, as it represents part of the man-made structure and is above the level of the surrounding pavement.

The main tuned mass damper atop Taipei 101 is designed to withstand the typhoon winds and earthquake tremors common in its area of the Asia-Pacific. Planners aimed for a structure that could withstand gale winds of 60 m/s (197 ft/s, 216 km/h, 134 mph) and the strongest earthquakes likely to occur in a 2,500 year cycle. Skyscrapers must be flexible in strong winds yet remain rigid enough to prevent large sideways movement (lateral drift). Flexibility prevents structural damage while resistance ensures comfort for the occupants and protection of glass, curtain walls and other features. Most designs achieve the necessary strength by enlarging critical structural elements such as bracing.

The extraordinary height of Taipei 101 combined with the demands of its environment called for additional innovations. The design achieves both strength and flexibility for the tower through the use of high-performance steel construction. Thirty-six columns support Taipei 101, including eight “mega-columns” packed with 10,000-psi concrete. Every eight floors, outrigger trusses connect the columns in the building’s core to those on the exterior. These features combine with the solidity of its foundation to make Taipei 101 one of the most stable buildings ever constructed. The foundation is reinforced by 380 piles driven 80 m (262 ft) into the ground, extending as far as 30 m (98 ft) into the bedrock. Each pile is 1.5 m (5 ft) in diameter and can bear a load of 1,320 metric tons. The stability of the design became evident during construction when, on March 31, 2002, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Taipei. The tremor was strong enough to topple two construction cranes from the 56th floor, then the highest. Five people died in the accident, but an inspection showed no structural damage to the building, and construction soon resumed. Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers along with Evergreen Consulting Engineering designed a 660 metric tons steel pendulum that serves as a tuned mass damper, at a cost of $4 million. Suspended from the 92nd to the 88th floor, the pendulum sways to offset movements in the building caused by strong gusts. Its sphere, the largest damper sphere in the world, consists of 41 circular steel plates, each with a height of 125 mm (4.92 in) being welded together to form a 5.5 m (18 ft) diameter sphere. Another two tuned mass dampers, each weighing 6 metric tons, sit at the tip of the spire. These prevent damage to the structure due to strong wind loads.

Taipei 101’s characteristic blue-green glass curtain walls are double paned and glazed, offer heat and UV protection sufficient to block external heat by 50 percent, and can sustain impacts of 7 metric tons. Recycled water meets 20-30 percent of the building’s water needs. Upgrades are currently under way to make Taipei 101 “the world’s tallest green building” by LEED standards by summer 2011.

The adjoining park acts as the face of a sundial. Taipei 101, like all spire structures, participates in the symbolism of a world center where earth and sky meet and the four compass directions join. The height of 101 floors commemorates the renewal of time: the new century that arrived as the tower was built (100+1) and all the new years that follow (January 1 = 1-01). It symbolizes high ideals by going one better on 100, a traditional number of perfection. The number also evokes the binary numeral system used in digital technology. The main tower features a series of eight segments of eight floors each. In Chinese-speaking cultures the number eight is associated with abundance, prosperity and good fortune. In cultures that observe a seven-day week the number eight symbolizes a renewal of time (7+1). In cultures where seven is the lucky number, 8 represents 1 better than ‘lucky seven’. In digital technology the number eight is associated with the byte, being 8 bits. A bit is the basic (minimal) unit of information. The repeated segments simultaneously recall the rhythms of an Asian pagoda (a tower linking earth and sky, also evoked in the Petronas Towers), a stalk of bamboo (an icon of learning and growth), and a stack of ancient Chinese ingots or money boxes (a symbol of abundance). The four discs mounted on each face of the building where the pedestal meets the tower represent coins. The emblem placed over entrances shows three gold coins of ancient design with central holes shaped to imply the Arabic numerals 1-0-1.

Ruyi figure over a Taipei 101 entrance Curled ruyi figures appear throughout the structure as a design motif. The ruyi is an ancient symbol associated with heavenly clouds. It connotes healing, protection and fulfilment. It appears in celebrations of the attainment of new career heights. Each ruyi ornament on the exterior of the Taipei 101 tower stands at least 8 m (26 ft) tall. The sweeping curved roof of the adjoining mall culminates in a colossal ruyi that shades pedestrians. Though the shape of each ruyi at Taipei 101 is traditional, its metallic interpretation is plainly modern. At night the bright yellow gleam from its pinnacle casts Taipei 101 in the role of a candle or torch upholding the ideals of liberty and welcome. From 6:00 to 10:00 each evening the tower’s lights display one of seven colours in the spectrum. The colours coincide with the days of the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, respectively. The cycle through the spectrum connects the tower with the rich symbolism of rainbows as bridges linking earth to sky and earth’s peoples to one another.

As a landmark Taipei 101 renews the symbolism of all tall towers as cosmic centers. Its interplaying symbols speak of optimism, abundance, and the ever-renewing cycles of time. Taipei 101 is the first record-setting skyscraper to be constructed in the twenty-first century. Appropriately it exhibits a number of technologically advanced features as it provides a center for business and recreation. The original 2004 fiber-optic and satellite Internet connections permitted transfer speeds up to a gigabyte per second. The double-deck elevators built by the Japanese Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corporation (TELC) set a new record in 2004 with top ascending speeds of 16.83 m (55.22 ft) per second (60.6 km/h, 37.7 mi/h). This speed is 34.7 percent faster than the previous record holders of the Yokohama Landmark Tower elevator, Yokohama, Japan, which reaches speeds of 12.5 m (41 ft) per second (45.0 km/h, 28.0 mi/h). Taipei 101’s elevators sweep visitors from the fifth floor to the 89th-floor observatory in only 37 seconds. Each elevator features an aerodynamic body, full pressurization, state-of-the art emergency braking systems, and the world’s first triple-stage anti-overshooting system. The cost for each elevator is $2.4 million.


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