The building of the Taipei 101 skyscraper

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Situated in the Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan the Taipei 101 building is still officially the world’s tallest skyscraper with a massive 101 floors. The building itself was designed by C Y Lee and Partners and constructed with the expertise of the KTRT Joint Venture and Samsung Engineering and Construction. While skyscrapers around the world continue to grab the headlines there is something special about the Taipei 101 skyscraper which has been hailed as one of seven new wonders of the world by Newsweek magazine.

The history of Taipei 101

While the skyscraper was officially opened on New Year’s Eve 2004 it began life back in 1997 when talks between merchants and the local government originally started regarding a 66 story skyscraper. The idea was that the Taipei 101 building would be the focal point of the district’s financial sector and attract significant business and press coverage around the world.

While initial talks centred upon a 66 story building, by 1998 there had been a significant change in plans for the building which would now contain 101 levels in total. A license from the local authorities was granted in 1998 and by the summer of 2000 construction of the building was under way.

Constructing the Taipei 101 skyscraper

While the skyscraper is officially the largest building of its kind in the world, it is also the only major skyscraper to be built in the 21st century. As a consequence, the technology, the know-how and structure of the Taipei 101 skyscraper is like nothing ever seen before!

While the structure is credited with 101 stories from ground level there are actually five additional underground stories although these do not count towards the world’s highest skyscraper reading. The building itself is built to withstand strong typhoon winds and massive earthquakes and earth tremors which are common in the area. To give you a better angle on what the building can accommodate, it has been built to withstand winds of over 130 miles an hour and the strongest earthquake likely to happen within a 2500 year cycle.

Due to the latest construction technology, the building itself remains rigid yet is able to drift sideways in strong winds and during earth quakes or earth tremors. This is possible by massive mega columns which total eight in number and run through the central core of the building. Each of these columns contains 10,000 PSI of concrete and on every 8th floor there are further support columns expanded outwards and gripping the outer surface of the property.

This unique structure allows Taipei 101 to lean as a whole and shift slightly sideways during extreme weather conditions and earthquakes, but remain rigid in itself, thereby protecting floors, walls and glass windows.

The foundations for the Taipei 101 skyscape

To give you an idea of the size of the skyscraper you may like to ponder the following measurements:-

The property is nearly 1700 feet from the ground to the highest architectural structure.

Taipei 101 is over 1450 feet from ground to the roof.

The highest occupied floor of the building is a full 1450 from the ground.

For those working within Taipei 101 there is a lift which can ascend at speeds approaching 40 mph.

The property itself is supported by 380 piles which have been driven into the ground to a depth of around 260 feet of which 98 feet is into solid bedrock. Each of the piles is around 5 feet in diameter, made of the highest performance steel available and able to take the a weight in excess of 1000 metric tons each (up to 1320 metric tons). Unfortunately, when an earthquake hit the area in March 2002, with a magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter scale, this caused the deaths of five people working on the building. However from a structural point of view even though two construction cranes fell from the 56th floor onto the ground below, there was no structural damage to the building when examined after the earthquake.

The anti-sway mechanism built into the Taipei 101 skyscraper

As we covered above, the structure is able to withstand significant winds and significant earthquakes due in the main to a very complex and complicated anti-sway mechanism which cost a massive $4 million in its own right. In effect the building has a steel pendulum, which acts as a tuned mass damper, suspended from the 92nd floor of the 80th floor. The device consists of 41 circular steel plates welded together to create a sphere which is around 18 feet in diameter. There are a further two tuned mass dampers at the bottom and top on the central sphere which weigh around 6 tonnes each.

In simple terms the spheres move in the opposite direction to the wind or earth tremors thereby counterbalancing the majority of the natural sway which you would experience under such circumstances. The windows around the exterior of the building are double glazed, offering heat and UV protection, and can withstand an impact force of around seven metric tons!

The cost of Taipei 101

While there is no doubt that the Taipei 101 skyscraper has created and maintained significant publicity for the region it did cost a massive $1.76 billion to build. There are few official figures available for the initial estimates as to the cost of the project but insiders believe there was relatively little overspend from the original budget.

Conclusion

While the $1.76 billion cost of the Taipei 101 skyscraper may seem a little excessive to many, this is still officially the largest skyscraper in the world even though there is one particular skyscraper which exceeds the height of Taipei 101. The Burj Dubai skyscraper is the building in question and when it is fully furnished and fully finished in September 2009 it should officially become the world’s largest skyscraper. Even though the exterior of the building is complete, in order to obtain the record there is a requirement that the building is fully let.

Even though we have thrown many figures at you in this particular article, there is one which should put the whole project in perspective. The Taipei 101 skyscraper was the first building in the new millennium to exceed over half a kilometre in height. Need we say more?

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