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Taipei 101: my first skyscraper

As I’ve probably mentioned when writing about the CN Tower, I really love tall buildings. The one about CN Tower may have been the first one written for Travelue, but my first really tall building was Taipei 101, once the tallest skyscraper in the world, since its completion in 2004 until the opening of Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. It doesn’t mean it was the tallest man made building in the world, since CN Tower topped it by more than 50 meters, but the latter wasn’t a skyscraper. 

Don’t be upset if you didn’t knew this detail, since most people don’t. I for one, found out the difference between skyscrapers and buildings a couple of years after visiting Taipei 101, and it didn’t ruin the experience. Sometimes is actually better not to know things, as you probably already realized.

Taipei 101 official site – you can get more info here about Taiwan’s pride and joy

As any respectable modern skyscraper, Taipei 101 features an iconic profile, which sets it apart from a ‘regular’ tall building. There are plenty of documentaries on TV and Youtube about Taipei 101, so I won’t get into details about its shape, which is inspired by Asian symbols and also plays nice with strong winds, which are not uncommon in the Taiwan region.

It’s an understatement to say “Taipei 101” dominates Taiwan’s capital skyline, a big one. As I approached the city from the airport, located more than an hour drive from the city center, I could tell I was going in the right direction because the giant 500 meters skyscraper was visible long before reaching city limits.

There’s plenty of tall building in its surroundings, but the 20-30 storeys ones looked like midgets compared to basketball players. You’ll see what I’m talking about in the gallery below, where you’ll see a couple of pictures taken from the top floor (437 meters), which incidentally is the 101st floor of the building, hence the 101 suffix in its name.

Lucky at last

I first visited Taiwan in June 2004, when the building wasn’t 100% completed. You could only visit the bottom levels, where the expensive mall shops were already opened. I was pretty pissed about the missed opportunity, but a lucky star shined on me and in June 2005 I was back again in Taiwan.

This time I did get on top of Taipei 101 and stroke gold with the weather, since usually clouds are getting in the way of things when you’re over 500 meters tall.

Taipei 101 in clouds
Taipei 101 in clouds

Taipei 101 and earthquakes

During my stay in 2004 I got a glimpse of what an earthquake zone really means, where people take these events into consideration when building stuff. I got woken up during a 6-degrees one by my room mate. It was almost complete silence, no creaks or squeaks as I was accustomed with from back home, where all buildings tend to ‘complain’ a lot during even minor earthquakes. The 5-star hotel we were staying at didn’t lose any stars that night…

As I found out the next day, emergency crews were dispatched immediately at Taipei 101 to check how the building fared against its first major earthquake. Needless to say the tuned mass damper worked flawlessly.

Taipei 101 tuned mass damper
Taipei 101 tuned mass damper

PS. Sorry for the sub par picture quality, but digital cameras 10 years ago were not as good as today’s shooters.

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