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Taipei 101 - The Number of Reasons to Be Impressed by Taiwan's Tallest Building

Posted December 19, 2016 9:20 AM by yamdankee

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Taiwan. Along with the friendly people and delicious food, the architecture really impressed me. Whether it was an ancient temple or a modern sky rise, the purposeful design and bold shapes found here are downright striking. I visited several landmarks including the Longshan Temple (Taipei), the National Stadium (Kaohsiung), and even an upside down house.

There was one structure, though, that just filled me with awe. Taipei 101. Dominating the Taipei sky line at 1,671 feet (509.2 meters), it was the first building in the world to break the half-kilometer mark in height*. We’re all engineers here, you know how to research Taipei 101 stats if you wanted to. But I’d like to share with you some things about the building I found fascinating.

Particularly around the time of construction in 1999, Taiwan was very much an up and coming city. A good way to get the world’s attention is to build the tallest building! It has since been surpassed by other buildings. The tallest in the world is currently the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Though no longer the tallest, the engineering involved in the construction of this beautiful building is remarkable, because it was one of the most difficult to build.

There was a lot going against this building going up, and staying up. Taiwan has very soft clay, and is notorious for typhoons. Also, built only 200 meters away from a major fault line (the closest any skyscraper has ever been to one), earthquakes are also a huge concern. So, the building had to be flexible enough to withstand an earthquake, but firm enough to resist a typhoon. To make this happen, two revolutionary systems were implemented.

1 – A mass damper with the weight of 10,000 people.

2 – A giant braced column megaframe of steel and concrete. The steel for the tensile strength and the concrete for the compressive strength.

(Longshan Temple, Taipei, Taiwan)

As many of you may know, you don’t have to have a typhoon for wind to still be a major concern. Constant wind keeps adding energy that must eventually be released. The saw tooth corners all the way up the building help dissipate that energy. But during significant winds, especially during a typhoon, the passive damper plays a critical role. Here’s a video demonstrating the kind of movement possible during a typhoon:

Some other facts I learned about Taipei 101:

  • The construction project lasting 6 years had 2,000 workers at any one time
  • 700,000 tons of steel and concrete replaced the 700,000 tons of earth removed from site
  • Records were set in vertical distance concrete was pumped
  • It has 17,000 windows. When they’re done cleaning them, it’s time to start all over
  • It houses enough electrical cable to stretch to New York and back again

Originally, the designers, architects, and engineers weren’t even planning on it being the tallest building at the time. At first they were conceptualizing less than 88 floors, then a plan for 88 came along, and then they said to each other, “We’re only 13 floors away, let’s go for it!” The obstacles overcome to construct this beautiful skyscraper were daunting. But it proves the power of teamwork, communication, and innovation.

(A view from the sky deck observation lounge.)

*http://www.emporis.com/buildings/100765

Top image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/00/101.portrait.altonthompson.jpg

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#1

Re: Taipei 101 - The Number of Reasons to Be Impressed by Taiwan's Tallest Building

12/19/2016 11:55 PM

1. " A good way to get the world's attention is to build the tallest building ".

2. A better way to get the world's attention, is to build a rocket and land a man on the moon.

With the first one, it only gathers attention as long as it is.

With the second one, it gathers attention as long as it has.

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#2

Re: Taipei 101 - The Number of Reasons to Be Impressed by Taiwan's Tallest Building

12/20/2016 3:00 AM

Quite a feat of engineering, to be sure, but does its shape remind anyone else of a stack of Chinese take-away boxes?

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