Sun, Jul 20, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Taipei 101 set to break records, but questions remain


Taiwan is set to attract international attention as it opens the doors on the world's tallest building.

The new 508m Taipei 101 holds three of the "World's Tallest Building" titles -- tallest structural top, tallest roof and highest occupied floor. It also has the world's fastest elevator -- getting from the first to the 89th floor takes only 39 seconds.

Construction of the 101-storey building began in 1999. On July 1, President Chen Shui-bin (陳水扁) attended the topping out ceremony to see the last beam put into place.

Standing on the edge of Taipei and surrounded by green hills, Taipei 101 will provide a new landmark for Taipei and snatch the world's tallest building title from the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

But it is expected to hold the title for only three years, before perhaps being surpassed by the Jin Mao Building in Shanghai or the International Financial Center in Hong Kong.

But the consortium that built Taipei 101 -- Taipei Financial Center Corp -- said it is not worried about losing the title.

"We are not worried at all because first, we did not want to win the title. The building just happened to be the world's tallest. Second, world records are set to be broken," said Lin Hung-ming, a manager at the company.

"Our goal is to build a world-class financial center, and provide Taipei residents with a place to go shopping and dine out," he said.

The shopping center will open on Nov. 4 next year while the rest of the building -- 72 floors of offices and several floors of restaurants and clubs -- will open earlier.

The Taipei Financial Center is the brainchild of the previous Taipei City Government, when Chen was mayor.

The skyscraper design, favored by Chen, triggered heated public debate about building such a structure in an earthquake-prone area, the proximity of the tower to the airport and the possibility the tower may be a target for terrorist attacks.

The nation sits on the circum-Pacific seismic zone which covers the Aleutian Islands, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia and New Zealand.

About 68 percent of the world's earthquakes strike this area.

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