Taipei 101 | History and definition of Taipei 101 | The highest tower in the Asia

Taipei 101, formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center, is a landmark skyscraper located in Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan. The building ranked officially as the world's tallest from 2004 until the opening of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. Taipei 101 was designed by C.Y. Lee & partners and constructed primarily by Samsung C&T who participated lately as the original main contractor KTRT Joint Venture couldn't finish the construction on time. The tower has served as an icon of modern Taiwan ever since its opening, and received the 2004 Emporis Skyscraper Award. 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 building was architecturally created as a symbol of the evolution of technology and Asian tradition (see Symbolism). 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, until 2003, was derived from the name of the owner. The original name in Chinese was literally, Taipei International Financial Center.

The Petronas Towers are skyscrapers and twin towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 until surpassed by Taipei 101, but remain the tallest twin buildings in the world.The building is the landmark of Kuala Lumpur with nearby Kuala Lumpur Tower.

The Taipei 101 tower has 101 stories above ground and five underground. Upon its completion Taipei 101 claimed the official records for:
* Ground to highest architectural structure (spire): 509.2 metres (1,671 ft). Previously held by the Petronas Towers 452 m (1,483 ft).
* Ground to roof: 449.2 m (1,474 ft). Formerly held by the Willis Tower 442 m (1,450 ft).
* Ground to highest occupied floor: 439.2 m (1,441 ft). Formerly held by the Willis Tower 412.4 m (1,353 ft).
* Fastest ascending elevator speed: designed to be 1010 meters per minute, which is 16.83 m/s (55.22 ft/s) (60.6 km/h, 37.7 mi/h). Now it has been succeeded by Burj Khalifa's elevator whose speed of ascending is 18 m/s (64 km/h).
* Largest countdown clock: Displayed on New Year's Eve.
* Tallest sundial. (See 'Symbolism' below.)

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 - 3rd millennium.

The record it claimed for greatest height from ground to pen pinnacle now rests with the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (UAE): 828 m (2,717 ft). 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.

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 (69 MPa) 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 1,000–1,320 tonnes (1,100–1,460 short 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 tonnes (728 short tons) steel pendulum that serves as a tuned mass damper, at a cost of NT$132 million (US$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 tonnes (7 short 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 tonnes (8 short 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.

Two restaurants have opened on the 85th floor: Diamond Tony's, which offers European-style seafood and steak, and Shin Yeh 101, which offers Taiwanese-style cuisine. Occupying all of the 86th floor is Japanese restaurant XEX.

The multi-story retail mall adjoining the tower is home to hundreds of fashionable stores, restaurants, clubs and other attractions. The mall's interior is modern in design even as it makes use of traditional elements. The curled ruyi symbol is a recurring motif inside the mall. Many features of the interior also observe feng shui traditions.

Taipei 101 features an Indoor Observatory (89th floor) and an Outdoor Observatory (91st floor). Both offer 360-degree views and attract visitors from around the world.

The Indoor Observatory stands 383.4 m (1,258 ft) above ground, offering a comfortable environment, large windows with UV protection, recorded voice tours in eight languages, and informative displays and special exhibits. Here one may view the skyscraper's main damper, which is the world's largest and heaviest visible damper, and buy food, drinks and gift items.

Two more flights of stairs take visitors up to the Outdoor Observatory. The Outdoor Observatory, at 391.8 m (1,285 ft) above ground, is the second-highest observation deck ever provided in a skyscraper and the highest such platform in Taiwan.

The Indoor Observatory is open twelve hours a day (10:00 am–10:00 pm) throughout the week as well as on special occasions; the Outdoor Observatory is open during the same hours as weather permits. Tickets may be purchased on site in the shopping mall (5th floor) or in advance through the Observatory's web site. Tickets cost NT$400 (US$13) and allow access to the 88th through 91st floors via high-speed elevator.

Planning for Taipei 101 began in 1997 during Chen Shui-bian's term as Taipei mayor. Talks between merchants and city government officials initially centered on a proposal for a 66-story tower to serve as an anchor for new development in Taipei's 101 business district. Planners were considering taking the new structure to a more ambitious height only after an expat suggested it, along with many of the other features used in the design of the building. It wasn't until the summer of 2001 that the city granted a license for the construction of a 101-story tower on the site. In the meantime, construction proceeded and the first tower column was erected in the summer of 2000.

Taipei 101's roof was completed three years later on July 1, 2003. Ma Ying-jeou, in his first term as Taipei mayor, fastened a golden bolt to signify the achievement.

The formal opening of the tower took place on New Year's Eve 2004. President Chen Shui-bian, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng cut the ribbon. Open-air concerts featured a number of popular performers, including singers A-Mei and Sun Yan Zi. Visitors rode the elevators to the Observatory for the first time. A few hours later the first fireworks show at Taipei 101 heralded the arrival of a new year.

The 101st floor is also divided into three levels: 101F (lower), 101MF (mezzanine) and 101RF (roof). It is not known what is actually on these levels, or whether the VIP club actually exists, except that 101RF provides access to the 60-metre tall spire, which has 24 levels (numbered R1 through R24) that can only be accessed via ladder.

The 92nd through 100th floors are officially designated as "communication floors," although it's unknown if there are any radio or TV stations currently broadcasting from the top of Taipei 101. The 91st floor observatory is the highest floor that is open to the public (albeit for a hefty fee), but unlike the leased/private floors from 7~90F, there is no sign of even a visible access point to the topmost floors on Level 91. The top 10 floors have never been mentioned anywhere outside of the observatory brochure.

4 is considered an unlucky number in chinese culture, so what would have been Level 44 has been replaced by Level 43, with 42A replacing the actual 43 to compensate for the skipped floor number.

There is a freight elevator that facilitates access to every level from B5 to 91, with a button for every floor.

A tenant directory is posted in the first floor lobby (from the Xinyi entrance.) As of 1 January 2011, the highest occupied office floor (excluding the observatory and restaurants) is 75. The building appears to be at least 70% occupied at this point.