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The Taipei 101 Tower

Profile and Interesting Facts for Taiwan's Iconic Landmark

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taipei 101

The Taipei 101 Tower lit at night.

Photo by Francisco Diez / Creative Commons

The Taipei 101 tower in Taipei, Taiwan, was the world's tallest building from 2004 until 2010, when it was beat out by Dubai's impressive Burj Khalifa. Regardless, Taipei 101 is still considered the tallest green building in the world for its innovative and energy-saving design.

Rich with symbolism and tradition, Taipei's iconic landmark is a standing monument to feng shui and modern design.

Before heading to Taiwan, read some Taipei travel essentials to know what to expect.

Taipei 101 Tower Specifications

  • Height: 1,667 feet (508 meters) as measured from the ground to the tip of the spire on top.
  • Highest Occupied Floor: 1,437 feet (438 meters).
  • Number of Floors: 101 (an additional five basement floors are underground).
  • Construction Cost: US $1.8 billion.

Symbolism and Design

Even the neighborhood and pieces of art in the park surrounding Taipei 101 are meant to support the tower's feng shui and to prevent positive energy from escaping. From the shape of entrances to curving surfaces and incorporated colors, the landmark is designed to symbolize prosperity and good fortune.

To some, the Taipei 101 tower looks like a stack of Western-style Chinese food take-out boxes, however, the tower is meant to represent a stalk of bamboo reaching into the sky to connect heaven and earth.

The 101 floors represent adding one to the number 100, which is considered perfect and auspicious in Chinese culture. The eight sections of the tower are a shout out to the auspicious number '8' which represents abundance and good fortune.

Because '4' is considered an unlucky number in Chinese culture, having a 44th floor was purposely avoided by creating a floor 42A to bump the 43rd floor into that position.

The History of Taipei 101

Construction on the Taipei 101 tower began in 1999 after two years of planning and finished in 2004. The ground-breaking ceremony was held on January 13, 1999, and the tower opened to the public on December 31, 2004.

The chief architect for Taipei 101 was Chinese-born C.Y. Lee; he received his master's degree from Princeton University in New Jersey, USA.

Construction Caveats

The Taipei 101 tower had to be constructed with more than just beauty and symbolism in mind; Taiwan is regularly subjected to powerful typhoons and regional earthquakes. According to the designers, the tower can withstand winds of up to 134 miles per hour and the strongest earthquakes on modern record.

To survive potentially destructive forces of nature, Taipei 101 incorporates a steel pendulum -- the largest in the world -- suspended through the core of the building between the 92nd and 87th floors of the structure. The suspended sphere weighs 1.76 million pounds and sways freely to offset movement of the building around it. Visitors can see the pendulum in action from a restaurant and the observation decks.

The anti-sway system passed a real-life test during Taiwan's 6.8-magnitude earthquake in 2002.

What is Inside the Taipei 101 Tower?

Taipei 101 is home to scores of tenants including communications companies, banks, motor companies, consulting groups, and financial companies. Some notable tenants include: Google Taiwan on the 73rd floor, L'Oreal' -- the world's largest cosmetic company, and the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

The tower is also home to a library, fitness center, a shopping mall, and all the expected retail and restaurant chains.

Perhaps most interesting of Taipei 101's inhabitants is Summit 101 -- an exclusive VIP club situated on the 101st floor of the tower. Aside from once being listed in the tower brochure, the club is shrouded in secrecy and is unreachable via the regular elevators. Despite widespread publicity and millions of visitors a year that come to see the tower, no one is really sure what goes on up there!

Interesting Facts About Taipei 101

  • When it opened in 2004, the Taipei 101 tower beat the twin Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by a height of 184 feet for title as tallest building in the world.
  • Although owned by the Taipei Financial Center Corporation, the tower is actually managed by a company based in Chicago, USA.
  • Taipei 101 is symbolically boasted as the tallest sundial in the world; the circle-shaped park around the tower adds to the effect.
  • There are 61 elevators inside of the tower.
  • The fastest elevator inside Taipei 101 moves at an astonishing speed of 37.7 miles per hour (55.2 feet per second)!
  • French climber Alain Robert, nicknamed the 'French Spider Man', climbed Taipei 101 legally on Christmas Day in 2004. He had already climbed the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, and many of the world's tallest structures; the climb took four hours to complete.
  • Austrian Felix Baumgartner, best known for breaking the sound barrier during his 2012 space jump, did an illegal base jump from Taipei 101's observation deck on the 91st floor in 2007.
  • The parking space for the Taipei 101 tower is 893,000 square feet and can accommodate more than 1,800 vehicles -- don't forget where you parked!
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