Sat, Mar 02, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Taipei's plans for the world's tallest building approved

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The yet to-be-completed 101-storey Taipei Financial Center (台北國際金融大樓) will become the world's tallest building after aviation authorities dropped a height restriction on the skyscraper.

"The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA, 民航局) has upgraded navigation guidance facilities at Sungshan Airport (松山機場) and rerouted landings so that the building no longer poses any threat to flight safety," a CAA statement said yesterday.

The statement added that "the decision still needs the transportation ministry's approval before an official notification is sent to the Taipei City government and the building's contractors."

Construction began on the skyscraper, located in Taipei's Hsinyi District, in 1998, when then-Taipei mayor Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) proposed a plan to turn the area into Taipei's version of Manhattan. But plans for the 508m-tall building were blocked the following year when the CAA cited flight-safety concerns, while contractors threatened to seek compensation from the CAA if the previously approved design was to be altered. An agreement, however, was later reached among contractors, the local government and CAA to lower the skyscraper's height to 391m -- a less ambitious 90-story structure.

Local reports yesterday said that Lin Hung-min (林鴻明), chairman of the Hung Kuo Group (宏國) and one of the building's major investors, has been striving hard to reverse the agreement.

Spokesmen for Hung Kuo and the building's contractor yesterday refused to comment on the CAA's revision, both saying that "they have not yet been informed of the decision."

The NT$20.6 billion building is scheduled for completion in 2004 and would dwarf the world's current tallest building -- Malaysia's 452m Petronas Twin Towers.

But as aircraft would have to reroute landing approaches, concerns were raised yesterday over whether domestic flight costs will increase. Far Eastern Air Transport Corp's (遠東航空) public-relations manager Benny Tsao (曹冰瑩), however, yesterday told the Taipei Times that flight companies would benefit from the installation of a new landing guidance system at the airport.

"With the new guidance system, aviation safety will be greatly improved and benefit all flight companies, which will be only slightly burdened with higher fuel costs," Tsao said.

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