National Geographic : 2005 Oct
GEOGRAPHICA ARCHITECTURE Taipei Towers Above All Others Taiwan's capital goes to great lengths to claim record n the grandiose game of architectural one-upmanship, Taipei lays claim to the world's tallest building-at least for now. At 1,670 feet, the 101-story skyscraper dubbed Taipei 101 eclipses by 187 feet what were until October 2003 the tallest buildings in the world: the twin Petronas Towers in Kuala Lum pur, Malaysia. The towers held their record for a mere five years, and Taipei 101 may not wear the laurels for long. Burj Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, expected to exceed 2,000 feet, is scheduled to open in 2008. The U.S. long had a lock on record-breaking skyscrapers, but Asia's ambitious and locally inspired designs have displaced the U.S. in recent years. The Petronas Towers are based on an eight-pointed Islamic star, and be the most elegant of structures, but it boasts the world's fastest elevators, zipping upward at 38 miles an hour. All skyscrapers sway in the wind. Taipei 101, however, was erected in typhoon country. To ensure occupants' peace of mind, its engineers suspended a giant pendulum with a 726-ton weight over the 88th floor. Integrated with a set of shock absorbers, the pendulum counteracts the winds, reducing the building's sway and keeping motion sickness at bay. - Cliff Tarpy 20th-century Records Petronas Towers Kuala Lumpur, 1,483 feet, 1998 Sears Tower Chicago, 1,450 feet, 1974 World Trade Center Towers New York, 1,368 and 1,362 feet, 1n< , 68 .-. 7'7.