Cover Story :

Taipei 101 – The world's tallest building is in Taiwan

By Josephine Lin
Translated by Yvonne Chen

        The world's tallest building is now in Taiwan. With a height of 508 meters--and 101 stories above ground and five stories below--the Taipei 101 building has surpassed the 462-meter Sears Tower in Chicago and the 451-meter Petronas Twin Tower in Malaysia to acquire the title "world's tallest building."

        Designed by world-renowned architect C.Y. Lee, the exterior of the building resembles bamboo segments, with eight stories to each segment because the number "8" signifies prosperous growth. Each segment is shaped like a scepter, with ancient coins on the exterior of the 26th floor to give this modern building a Chinese style.

        Taipei 101 also has the world's fastest elevators. These can transport passengers to the 89th-floor observatory in a mere 39 seconds. Each one of these 1000-meter-per-minute elevators cost more than NT$68 million.

       To prevent the building from swaying during typhoons or earthquakes, an 800-ton, US$4 million, ball-shaped damper is used to dissipate lateral vibration to a spring system underneath. For the first time in architectural history, the damping system is is not hidden, but part of the building's design. This world's largest damper ball has a diameter of 5.5 meters and is visible from the 88th and 89th floors.

Condensed metropolitan life

        This gigantic building in the XinYi District is a miniature city with securities, financial, and business headquarters, plus entertainment and shopping. B2 through B5 are parking areas. B1 to the fifth floor makes up the shopping mall. Floors 6 to 84 are offices. The 85th floor is the executive business club. Scenic restaurants are on floors 86 to 89. The observation deck on floors 89 to 91 will be finished next April and opened in September.

        In the spotlight is the Taipei 101 Shopping Mall scheduled to open on November 14. B1 is the food court. The first floor features mass market fashions. SOGO will occupy the second floor. The third floor will house world-class boutiques. The Grand Formosa Regent and Gloria Prince Hotel will take over the fourth-floor restaurant area. The fifth floor will house JiaChi Health Club and Banquet Hall.

Easy shopping

        Taipei 101 offers an alternative to traditional cramped shopping environments by elevating the ceilings of each floor. The fourth floor measures 40 meters to the skirt dome, and offers an incredible visual and dining experience.

        The 800-ping SOGO Department Store on the second floor is designed for women aged 25 to 35, and will focus on cosmetics, lingerie, and clothing, creating a new concept--SOGO Beauty Plaza. Shopping will no longer be hectic, but easy and elegant in comfortable and spacious surroundings.

        Some 21 cosmetics brands from five major cosmetic companies--SKI-II, Shu Uemura, Lancôme, Estee Lauder, and Shiseido--will each occupy a space one-and-a-half larger than that of SOGO. Shih Shui Ya has 70-ping of space offering a Mediterranean atmosphere of quick beauty, hair, and body care to working women; it also offers music therapy in oxygenated rooms, and the latest Japanese oxygen therapy which customers can enjoy while seated in first-class airplane chairs.

       The third floor Galleria Couture, which opens next March, will offer high-end customers a relaxing space free from interruptions. Stores include LV, Celine, and Loewe, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Escada, Ceuuuti, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto with LV the flagship store. Issey Miyake will also open a complete flagship store in Taiwan here next April. Along with Just Gold, Bao-Pu, and other jewelers, World-Class Boutiques will dazzle.

A union of many exclusives

        Several companies plan to open their largest Taiwan store here, and provide customers with the most complete selection of products and services. For example, the Ralph Lauren image store on the second floor is the first in the nation to have purple, black, and blue labeled collections for both women and men. Brooks Brothers and Kenneth Cole will also set up shops here. The soon-to-open large Esprit store was designed by its German mother company, and will feature design concepts unseen in Asia. Mango, Benetton, and Sisley will open 90-ping, 70-ping, and 50-ping stores, respectively.

        Watson's will open a large third-generation value-added service store (VAS). In this new concept store on B1, beauticians will be available for consultations.

        Next to Watson's will be Jason's Supermarket, an upscale supermarket from Dairy Farm, the parent company of Wellcom Supermarket. Dairy Farm has opened upscale supermarkets in a number of large shopping centers; Jason's in Taipei 101 is the first in Taiwan.

       Taipei 101 Shopping Center combines fashion, food, and literature. McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken will both be available at the B1 food court; each restaurant covers 35 pings. Also, the Singaporean bookstore, Page One, will open its first store in Taiwan here.

        Grand Formosa Regent Taipei will open two restaurants on the fourth floor. One will have modern creative Taiwanese cuisine using Japanese and French cooking methods; the other restaurant is the Grand Formosa Restaurant. Both restaurants will open in December. Also, the Chung-Shuan Restaurant from SOGO's DunHua branch will open a branch restaurant on the fifth floor on November 14.

        JiaChi's "Taipei 101 OxySPA" will occupy 17,000 pings on the fifth and sixth floors. Its facilities will include an innovative rotating DJ stage, an aerospace fitness bay, plus 20 fitness courses including boxing, free combat, fencing, sword-fight, chi kung, and yoga. The health club is the first in Taiwan to prohibit the use of cell phones, in order to provide an environment free from interruption and intrusive cell-phone photography.

Bringing Taipei to the world

        Taipei 101 will soon become a new world landmark. Taipei City Government plans to feature the building in its 2004 New Year's Eve Celebrations; dazzling lights will count down the 10-bamboo segmented building, segment by segment, as the year ends and a new year begins. The building will, as Mayor Ma Ying-jeou says, "Bring Taipei to the world!"