Taipei 101 (Chinese: 臺北101 / 台北101) – stylized as TAIPEI 101 and formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center – is a landmark supertall skyscraper in Xinyi District, Taipei, Republic of China. The building was officially classified as the world's tallest in 2004, and remained such until the opening of Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. In 2011, the building was awarded the LEED platinum certification, the highest award according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, and became the tallest and largest green building in the world.
Taipei 101 was designed by C.Y. Lee and Partners and was constructed by KTRT Joint Venture and Samsung C&T. Construction on the 101-story tower started in 1999 and finished in 2004. The tower has served as an icon of modern Taiwan ever since its opening. The building was architecturally created as a symbol of the evolution of 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 stores, restaurants and clubs. 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 is primarily owned by Ting Hsin International Group. Urban Retail Properties is responsible for property management and leasing. 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 (Chinese: 臺北國際金融中心).
Taipei 101 comprises 101 floors above ground, as well as 5 basement levels. It was not only the first building in the world to break the half-kilometer mark in height, but also the world's tallest building from March 2004 to 10 March 2010 As of 28 July 2011, it is still the world's largest and highest-use green building.
Upon its completion, Taipei 101 was the world's tallest inhabited building, at 509.2 m (1,671 ft) as measured to its height architectural top (spire), exceeding the Petronas Towers, which were previously the tallest inhabited skyscraper at 451.9 m (1,483 ft). The height to the top of the roof, at 449.2 m (1,474 ft), and highest occupied floor, at 439.2 m (1,441 ft), surpassed the previous records of 442 m (1,450 ft) and 412.4 m (1,353 ft), respectively; the Willis Tower had previously held that distinction. It also surpassed the 85-story, 347.5 m (1,140 ft) Tuntex Sky Tower in Kaohsiung as the tallest building in Taiwan and the 51-story, 244.15 m (801 ft) Shin Kong Life Tower as the tallest building in Taipei. Taipei 101 claimed the official records for the world's tallest sundial and the world's largest New Year's Eve countdown clock.
Various sources, including the building's owners, give the height of Taipei 101 as 508 m (1,667 ft), roof height and top floor height as 448 m (1,470 ft) and 438 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 displaced the Petronas Towers as the tallest building in the world by 57.3 m (188 ft). The record it claimed for greatest height from ground to pinnacle was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is 829.8 m (2,722 ft) in height. Taipei 101's records for roof height and highest occupied floor briefly passed to the Shanghai World Financial Center in 2008, which in turn yielded these records as well to the Burj.
Taipei 101 is designed to withstand the typhoon winds and earthquake tremors that are common in the area east of Taiwan. Planners designed Taipei 101 to withstand gale winds of 60 metres per second (197 ft/s), (216 km/h or 134 mph), as well as the strongest earthquakes in a 2,500-year cycle.
Taipei 101 was designed to be flexible as well as structurally resistant, because while flexibility prevents structural damage, resistance ensures comfort for the occupants and for the protection of glass, curtain walls, and other features. Most designs achieve the necessary strength by enlarging critical structural elements such as bracing. Because of the height of Taipei 101, combined with the surrounding area's geology — the building is located just 660 feet away from a major fault line — Taipei 101 used high-performance steel construction and 36 columns, including eight "mega-columns" packed with 10,000 psi (69 MPa) concrete. Outrigger trusses, located at eight-floor intervals, connect the columns in the building's core to those on the exterior.
These features, combined with the solidity of its foundation, made 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). During construction, on 31 March 2002, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Taipei; two construction cranes from the 56th floor, the highest floor at the time, toppled. Five people died in the accident, but an inspection showed no structural damage to the building, and construction soon resumed.
RWDI designed a 660-tonne (728-short-ton) 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 87th 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 of varying diameters, each 125 mm (4.92 in) thick, welded together to form a 5.5 m (18 ft) diameter sphere. Two additional tuned mass dampers, each weighing 6 tonnes (7 short tons), are installed at the tip of the spire which help prevent damage to the structure due to strong wind loads. On 8 August 2015, strong winds from Typhoon Soudelor swayed the main damper by 100 centimetres (39 in) – the largest movement ever recorded by the damper.
The damper has become such a hot tourist attraction, the city created a mascot: the Damper Baby. Four versions of the Damper Baby: "Rich Gold", ""Cool Black", "Smart Silver" and "Lucky Red" were design and made into figurines and souvenirs sold in various Taipei 101 gift shops. Damper Baby, with its cute all-ages appeal, has become a popular local icon, with its own comic book and website.
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). The façade system of glass and aluminum panels installed into an inclined moment-resisting lattices contributes to overall lateral rigidity by tying back to the mega-columns with one-story high trusses at every eighth floor. This façade system is therefore able to withstand up to 95mm of seismic lateral displacements without damage.
The original corners of the facade were tested at RWDI in Ontario. A simulation of a 100-year storm at RWDI revealed a vortex that formed during a 3-second 105 miles per hour (169 km/h) wind at a height of 10 meters, or equivalent to the lateral tower sway rate causing large crosswind oscillations. A double chamfered step design was found to dramatically reduce this crosswind oscillation, resulting in the final design's "double stairstep" corner façade. Architect C.Y. Lee also used extensive façade elements to represent the symbolic identity he pursued. These façade elements included the green tinted glass for the indigenous slender bamboo look, eight upper outwards inclined tiers of pagoda each with eight floors, a Ruyi and a money box symbol between the two façade sections among others.
Taipei 101's own roof and façade recycled water system meets 20 to 30 percent of the building's water needs. In July 2011, Taipei 101 was certified "the world's tallest green building" under LEED standards.
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 (1 January = 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 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). Popular humor sometimes likens the building's shape to a stack of take-out boxes as used in Western-style Chinese food; of course, the stackable shape of such boxes is likewise derived from that of ancient money boxes. 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.
Curled ruyi figures appear throughout the structure as a design motif. Though the shape of each ruyi at Taipei 101 is traditional, its rendering in industrial metal is plainly modern. The ruyi is a talisman of ancient origin associated in art with heavenly clouds. It connotes healing, protection and fulfillment. It appears in celebrations of the attainment of new career heights. The sweeping curved roof of the adjoining mall culminates in a colossal ruyi that shades pedestrians. Each ruyi ornament on the exterior of the Taipei 101 tower stands at least 8 m (26 ft) tall.
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 colors coincide with the days of the week:
The cycle through the spectrum connects the tower with the rich symbolism of rainbows in culture that associate the image with connection and new beginnings.
The adjoining Taipei 101 on the east side connects the landmark further with the symbolism of time. The design of the circular park doubles as the face of a giant sundial. The tower itself casts the shadow to mark afternoon hours for the building's occupants. The park's design is echoed in a clock that stands at its entrance. The clock runs on energy drawn from the building's wind shear.
Taipei 101, like many of its neighbours, shows the influence of feng shui philosophy. An example appears in the form of a large granite fountain at the intersection of Songlian Road and Xinyi Road near the tower's east entrance. A ball at the fountain's top spins toward the tower. As a work of public art the fountain offers a contrast to the tower in texture even as its design echoes the tower's rhythms. The fountain also serves a practical function in feng shui philosophy. A T intersection near the entrance of a building represents a potential drain of positive energy, or ch'i, from a structure and its occupants. Placing flowing water at such spots is thought to help redirect the flow of ch'i.
Taipei 101 is the first record-setting skyscraper to be constructed in the 21st century. 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 the fastest ascending speeds in the world. At 60.6 kilometres (37.7 mi) per hour, or 16.83 m (55.22 ft) per second, the speed of Taipei 101's elevators 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 NT$80 million (US$2.4 million).
A 660-tonne (728-short-ton) tuned mass damper (TMD), located between the 87th and 91st floors, stabilizes the tower against movements caused by high winds. The damper can reduce up to 40 percent of the tower's movements. The TMD is visible to all visitors on the 87th through 91st floors.
Two restaurants have opened on the 85th floor: Diamond Tony's, which offers European-style seafood and steak, and Shin Yeh 101 (欣葉), which offers Taiwanese-style cuisine. Occupying all of the 86th floor is Taiwanese restaurant Ding Xian 101. Din Tai Fung, several international dining establishments and retail outlets also operate in the adjoining mall. 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.
The 101st floor is home to a private VIP club named Summit 101, according to the observatory brochure. Before 2014, no information about this club was ever made public,. In 2014, photos of the exclusive club were shown on TV for the first time. A Taipei Financial Center Corporation spokesman said that only foreign dignitaries, Hollywood film actors, and high spenders in the Taipei 101 Mall (over NT $1 million in purchases) had been invited to the VIP club.
Access to the 101st floor requires two elevator transfers on the 89th and 93rd floors, respectively. There is only one service elevator that facilitates access to the top 9 floors (93-101). The 101st floor is divided into three levels: 101F (lower), 101MF (mezzanine) and 101RF (roof). The VIP club exists on the lower level, while 101RF, a mechanical floor, 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, 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 are to have stated on their website to contain a radio and television relay station, Emergency system receiving/signaling relay station, telecommunications stations, and an outdoor antenna frame on 96F, which offers power, fire protection, telecom systems, and security related systems, according to their website.
4 is considered an unlucky number in Chinese culture, so what would have been the 44th floor 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 percent occupied at this point. All publicly accessible floors have wheelchair accessibility support.
Taipei 101 features an Indoor Observation deck (88th and 89th floor) and an Outdoor Observation deck (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 thirteen hours a day (9:00 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$500 (US$17, as of 9 September 2013) and allow access to the 88th through 91st floors via high-speed elevator.
Many works of art appear in and around Taipei 101. These include: German artist Rebecca Horn's Dialogue between Yin and Yang in 2002 (steel, iron), American artist Robert Indiana's 1-0 in 2002 and Love in 2003 (aluminum), French artist Ariel Moscovici's Between Earth and Sky in 2002 (rose de la claret granite), Taiwanese artist Chung Pu's Global Circle In 2002 (black granite, white marble), British artist Jill Watson's City Composition in 2002 (Bronze), and Taiwanese artist Kang Mu Hsiang's Infinite Life in 2013 (aluminum). Moreover, the Indoor Observatory hosts a regular series of exhibitions. The artists represented have included Wu Ching (gold sculpture), Ping-huang Chang (traditional painting) and Po-lin Chi (aerial photography).
Planning for Taipei 101 began in July 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.
A major earthquake took place in Taiwan during 31 March 2002 destroying a construction crane at the roof top, which was at floor number 47. The crane fell down onto the Xinyi Road beneath the tower, crushing several vehicles and causing five deaths – two crane operators and three workers who were not properly harnessed. However, an inspection showed no structural damage to the building, and construction work was able to restart within a week.
Taipei 101's roof was completed three years later on 1 July 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 Stefanie Sun. 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.
Important dates in the planning and construction of Taipei 101 include the following:
Taipei 101 is the site of many special events. Art exhibits, as noted above, regularly take place in the Observatory. A few noteworthy dates since the tower's opening include these.
On 28 February 2005, Former President of the United States Bill Clinton visits and signs copies of his autobiography. On 19 April 2005, tower displays the formula "E=mc2" in lights to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the publication of Einstein's theory of relativity. The display, the largest of 65,000 such displays in 47 countries, is part of the international celebration Physics Enlightens the World. On 20 October 2006, tower displays a pink ribbon in lights to promote breast cancer awareness. The ten-day campaign is sponsored by Taipei 101's ownership and Estée Lauder.
On 25 December 2004, French rock and urban climber Alain Robert makes an authorized climb to the top of the pinnacle in four hours. On 12 December 2007, Austrian base jumper Felix Baumgartner survives an unauthorized parachute jump from Taipei 101's 91st floor. On 20 November 2005, First annual Taipei 101 Run Up features a race up the 2,046 steps from floors 1 to 91. Proceeds benefit Taiwan's Olympic teams. Men's race is won by Paul Crake of Australia (10 minutes, 29 seconds) and women's race by Andrea Mayr of Austria (12 minutes, 38 seconds). On 15 June 2008, Taipei 101 Run Up features 2,500 participants. Men's race is won by Thomas Dold of Germany (10 minutes, 53 seconds); 2007 champion Marco De Gasperi of Italy finishes second and Chen Fu-tsai of Taiwan finishes third. Women's race is won by Lee Hsiao-yu of Taiwan (14 minutes, 53 seconds).
New Year's Eve fireworks displays
The New Year's Eve show in Taipei is hosted at the Taipei City Hall, which also provides a view of Taipei 101 which is lit up with fireworks. Another popular location for crowds to gather to see the fireworks display is the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. For the first three years (2004–2006), the annual fireworks show at Taipei 101 was preceded by the sequential display of numerals in lights on each section to count down the last eight seconds to midnight. Since 2007 the building has been completely darkened, then fireworks begin to launch sequentially from the lower to upper sections.
- 2003–2004: Building still under construction. Spinning lights on the Outdoor Observatory (floor 91) provided a display of sound and lights, but no fireworks were launched.
- 2004–2005: Grand opening of Taipei 101 celebrated with the first fireworks display. The show lasted 35 seconds. Rockets were launched from section balconies. Festivities included all-day performances by popular entertainers and ceremonial visits by national dignitaries.
- 2005–2006: Show extended to 128 seconds. Sony sponsored the show, which concluded with a display of the brand name in lights.
- 2006–2007: Show extended to 188 seconds; 9,000 rockets were launched. This was Sony's last time sponsoring the event because the Burj Dubai overtook 101's height.
- 2007–2008: Show same length but featuring 12,000 rockets. Civic and private sponsors ended the show with a display, in lights, of a heart over the word 'Taiwan.'
- 2008–2009: A conspicuously more modest show than those which preceded it. The theme was "Love Taiwan With Your Heart In 2009". The show ended with the four sides of the building displaying lights in four colours (red, blue, green and yellow) to represent happiness, vision, sustainability and passion.
- 2009–2010: The display regained some of the dazzle of 2005–2008 shows but remained more brief in duration. The theme was "Taiwan Up."
- 2010–2011: Show extended to 288 seconds, and designed by Cai Guo-Qiang, the artist also responsible for Beijing Olympics and World Expo Shanghai's fireworks. The theme was "100 ROC" (100th anniversary of the Republic of China) which extended on the "Love Taiwan" theme. 2010 was also the year the Floral Expo was held in Taipei, and at Dajia Riverside Park there was another New Year's Eve event. It was a VIP event, but was broadcast simultaneously with the City Hall event. The display on the building was accompanied by fireworks going off other buildings in the Xinyi financial district. One concept was for fireworks to spiral up and down the building like dragon crawling, but technical difficulties caused some disappointment with what was anticipated (reported by the media to be more like "a worm"). It also took 30 seconds for the host to realize the fireworks were over.
- 2011-2012: The show was shortened to 202 seconds and was considered to be more conservative than that of the previous year, but featuring the largest number of rockets launched to date, totalling at 30,000. The theme coincided with the 101st anniversary of the ROC. It also gained attention on YouTube, where viewers noticed an apparent "UFO" in the seconds before the fireworks started, later determined to be a radio-controlled glider with flashing lights.
- 2012-2013: The show was designed by the French pyrotechnics company Groupe F and was 188 seconds in length, featuring 22,000 rockets launched to an adaptation of Igor Stravinsky's The Firebird. The theme was "Swing for the Future." The words "Time for Taiwan" (both in English and Mandarin Chinese) were displayed in lights at the building to promote Taiwan Tourism Bureau's current advertising campaign.
- 2013-2014: The show lasts 170 seconds.
The Taipei Financial Center Corporation (TFCC) announced plans on 2 November 2009 to make Taipei 101 "the world's tallest green building" by summer of 2011 as measured by LEED standards. The structure is already designed to be energy-efficient, with double-pane windows blocking external heat by 50 percent and recycled water meeting 20–30 percent of the building's needs. LEED certification would entail inspections and upgrades in wiring, water and lighting equipment at a cost of NT$60 million (US$1.8 million). Estimates show the savings resulting from the modifications would pay for the cost of making them within three years. The project was carried out under the guidance of an international team composed of Siemens Building Technologies, architect and interior designer Steven Leach Group and the LEED advisory firm EcoTech International. The company applied for a platinum-degree certification with LEED in early 2011. On 28 July 2011, Taipei 101 received LEED platinum certification under "Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance". It displaced the Bank of America Tower in Manhattan as the world's tallest and highest-use green building in addition to the Environmental Protection Agency building in Florida as the world's largest green building. Although the project cost NT$60 million (US$2.08 million), it is expected to save 14.4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, or an 18 percent energy-saving, equivalent to NT$36 million (US$1.2 million) in energy costs each year. In 2012, the shopping center at the base is expected to be remodeled.