On my last day in Taiwan with the Rotary Club, I visited one of the tallest buildings in the world: TAIPEI 101. After it opened on December 31, 2004, Newsweek Magazine listed the elegant superstructure as “One of the New Seven Wonders of the World,” and I could see why. She’s a real beauty!
A COMMERICAL CENTER
Taipei 101 stands as the financial, fashion, and recreational center of the metropolitan city. The upscale shopping mall is clothed with architectural grace, an alluring environment for purchasing high-priced products. A movie theater and restaurants add to the diversion Taipei 101 offers its visitors.
THE FASTEST ELEVATORS
Although Taipei 101 no longer holds the title of World’s Tallest Building, the Taiwanese tower still contains the world’s fastest elevators, according to Guinness World Records. These modern lifts carry guests at a top speed of 60km per hour to the Observatory on the 89th floor in less than 40 seconds. The elevators are pressurized to avoid extreme ear popping as they zoom up and down the shaft at record-breaking speeds.
The 89th Floor boasts a spectacular panoramic view of Taipei City – unless you visit on a foggy evening like I did, as luck would have it. Despite the poor visibility, I still enjoyed surveying the capital city shrouded in mist. I was thoroughly entertained by the interactive displays around the observation floor, too.
THE WIND DAMPER
In my opinion, the coolest element of the Taipei skyscraper is the wind damper. Officially called a Tuned Mass Damper, this massive ball of steel keeps Taipei 101 standing firm through strong winds and a multitude of earthquakes, reducing tower movement by as much as 40%.
The TAIPEI 101 Observatory has the world’s largest and heaviest wind damper with a diameter reaching 5.5 m (18 feet) and a weight of 660 tons. It is the only operational wind damper in the world exposed for public viewing. The wind damper is suspended between the 92nd and 87th floors and is composed of 41 layers of 12.5 cm (5 inch) thick steel plates riveted together, serving as one of the key elements of wind and earthquake resistance systems of TAIPEI 101. TAIPEI 101
What’s crazy to me is that visitors can be on the observation decks as the damper is moving! I’m not so sure how I’d feel to see the wind damper in action – which would mean some seriously high winds or ground tremors – but these folks didn’t seem too concerned when a typhoon hit Taipei in the fall of 2014. Take a look:
EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP
Taipei 101 engineers must have taken some tips from Disney when they designed the exit route. You cannot access the descending elevators without passing through the precious stones and jewelry store. Several information panels assured the legitimacy of trading red coral and other coral gemstones, but I remain skeptical to the practice. At any rate, I do appreciate the incredible artistry exhibited throughout the gallery.
A MUST-SEE/MUST-DO WHEN IN TAIWAN
Taipei 101 is so many things to so many people: a state-of-the-art office building, an engineering marvel, a shopping destination, a tourist attraction, a fireworks launcher, a source of pride. Make sure to visit and learn what it means to you!
Nín hǎo, friends! Do you enjoy going to the towers’ tops when you travel? Can you believe that Taipei 101 only held the title of Tallest Building for less than 6 years? Would you hang out on the 89th floor if the damper was moving?