`Taipei 101' opens with a big bang

SYMBOL OF UNITY: Its office space is only one-third full, but management preferred to concentrate on the pomp of the tower's grand opening ceremony


Sat, Jan 01, 2005 - Page 1

After seven years of planning and construction, the world's tallest building, Taipei 101, held its grand opening yesterday, presided over by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

"Taipei 101 is the new indicator of Taiwan's prosperity, and a new symbol of national unity," Chen said at the opening ceremony.

With construction beginning in January 1998, the 508m skyscraper surpassed Malaysia's Petronas Towers as the world's tallest building in October last year.

Taipei 101 management will open an observation deck on the 89th floor of the building on Jan. 19. Admission is NT$350, with a concession rate of NT$320 and group tickets available at NT$300 per person.

Diana Chen (陳敏薰), chairwoman of the Taipei Financial Center, which owns the building, said Taipei 101 has set a series of records, including the world's tallest structure, the world's biggest and heaviest tuned mass damper and the world's fastest elevator, moving up to 1,010m per minute.

"Therefore, we will provide the world's No.1 service to our customers," she said at the ceremony.

But it seems that the building, with 58,000 ping of office space to let out, is yet to boast the No.1 occupancy rate.

Taipei Financial Center officials said occupancy for the building's office space was at 33 percent, the same figure announced by the company in April. Rental in the world's highest building averages at NT$3,200 per ping per month.

Taipei Financial Center president Harace Lin (林鴻明) said the largest tenant thus far is the Taiwan Stock Exchange, which is scheduled to move in during June. He declined to name other tenants, only saying that four companies will start preparing their offices this month. The first opening of an office will be next month at the earliest, he said.

Potential tenants include the China Development Industrial Bank, Chinatrust Commercial Bank, Cathay Life Insurance and Taishin International Bank, all of whom are Taipei 101 shareholders.

Despite a tepid market response, Lin was still optimistic, saying the company needed 17 to 18 years to break even, which he said was a short period of time considering the size and value of the property.

The 101-story tower is designed to absorb temblors above seven on the Richter scale and one-in-100-year gales.