World Travel GuidesTaipei 101, Taiwan

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Taipei 101 is a 101-storey skyscraper located in Taipei, Taiwan. At the time of writing (18 July, 2007), Taipei 101 is the tallest habitated building in the world, pushing the Petronas Twin Towers to second place on 17 October 2003. Burj Dubai in turn surpassed Taipei 101 on height on 4 July 2007, will become the tallest building in the world when completed.

Taipei 101 was originally called Taipei Financial Centre but was renamed Taipei 101 to reflect its geographical position in Taipei, and the fact that it has 101 floors above ground, excluding an additional 5 underground.

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Lord Koxinga

Taipei 101 was designed by the architectural firm of C.Y. Lee & Partners, and constructed by KTRT Joint Venture. It is designed to appear like a bamboo stalk, which is how gold ingots were shaped as ancient Chinese money. There were 8 sections, each with 8 floors, as 8 represents luck in Chinese. There are also 4 circles on each side, representing gold coins. The 8 segments of Taipei 101 is clad in green tinted glass panels.

As Taipei is prone to high winds from typhoons as well as earthquakes, the builders of Taipei 101 have to ensure that the building is able to withstand the elements. On 31 March, 2002, when the building was still under construction, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Taipei, causing a construction crane to fall from the 56th floor of the incomplete building. The accideng killed 5 people but the building itself was undamaged.

To offset the movement of the building in times of strong winds, a huge 662-metric tonne steel pendulum was installed at the top of the building. It is hung suspended on the 92nd to the 88th floor, as acts as a tuned mass damper to reduce the overall effect of wind on the building. The spherical pendulum consists of 41 layered steel plates, each 12.5cm thick, and welded together to form a 5.5m diameter sphere. It is the largest damper sphere in the world.

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Taipei broke several records. It surpassed the Petronas Twin Towers for height from ground to structural top (509m/1671ft vs 452m/1483ft). This happened on 17 October, 2003, in an official topping-out ceremony, making it the first building in the world to break the half-kilometre mark in height.

Taipei 101 also surpassed Sears Tower for ground to roof height (449m/1474ft vs 442m/1451ft). It also topped Sears Tower for the fastest ascending elevator speed, at 16.83m/s, equivalent to 37.5mph or 60.6km/h. The record for greatest height from ground to pinnacle is momentarily still held by Sears Tower, pending completion of Burj Dubai.

With the completion of Taipei 101 displaces the 51-storey Shin Kong Life Tower as the tallest building in Taipei, and the 85-storey, 347.5m (1140ft) Tuntex Sky Tower of Kaohsiung as the tallest building in Taiwan.

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Visiting Taipei 101

Visitors to Taipei 101 can enjoy the view at an indoor and an outdoor observation deck. The indoor deck is located on the 89th floor, while the outdoor deck is on the 91st floor. Entrance to the decks is on the 5th floor, where the elevators are located. General admission fee to the indoor observation deck is NT$350. Admission is free to the indoor deck for children below 100cm in height. Concession tickets are priced at NT$320. Group tickets, at NT$300 each, are available for group reservations of 20 persons or more, made 5 days prior to visit.

A separate ticket of NT$100 is required for visiting the outdoor observation deck, which is touted as the world's highest outdoor deck. Tickets are available on the west side counter, on the 5th floor. It is mandatory to purchase the ticket for the indoor observation deck as well, to visit the outdoor deck. The observation decks are open daily from 10:00am to 10:00pm, and tickets are sold till 9:15pm.

An audio guide system is available to visitors at the counter on the 89th floor. A deposit of NT$1000 or a passport is required. The audio system allows visitors to choose the narration according to numbered stations marked on the poles of the deck. One needs to enter the number and press a green button on the audio machine to receive the narration. The audio machines must be returned before leaving the 89th floor.

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Attached to Taipei 101 is an upscale six-level mall. The basement level is called Grand Market. Its anchor tenant is Jason's Market Place, the high-end supermarket chain. Therre is also a 1200-seat food court and convenient shops. Level 1 is called Avenue 101, and includes the usual suspects in fashion, Armani Exchange, Esprit, DKNY, cK, Charles Jourdan, Lacoste, Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, Benetton, among others.

The "fashion parade" continues on Level 2, called Designer Walk, and includes Brooks Brothers, Dunhill, d'Urban, Lagerfeld, Mont Blanc, Valentino and Ralph Lauren. Level 3, nicknamed Galleries Couture, has upscale accessories from Bvlgari, Cartier, Cerruti 1881, Dior, Ermenegildo Zegna, Kenzo, Louis Vuitton, Prade, Tiffany and more.

Level 4 is City Square, and includes Haagen Dazs, Maxim's de Paris and Page One Bookstore. Level 5, called the Financial Center, has a few banks.

Getting there

Taipei 101 is located at Hsin-Yi Road, at the Hsin-Yi Master Planned Area. The nearest MRT station is City Hall.

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