Friday, April 24, 2009

The Mighty Petronas Twin Towers

This was always going to be one of the highlights of my trip to Malaysia - in fact, of all of Asia. These Twin Towers are the tallest Twin Towers in the world, and until 2004, they were the tallest buildings in the world (before the Taipei 101 was built).

You cannot help but stare at this monolith complex. It is huge. Stratospheric, almost. It is daunting, all encompassing and you would think that they are not actually real - that you are just looking at a postcard. The sight really is unbelievable.

Built in 1998, these Towers have 88 floors and our office is on the 45th floor, a few levels higher than the Sky Bridge, which links the two towers together.

It took over six years to build, commencing in 1992 and completing in 1998 when it took over the "worlds tallest" from the Sears Tower in Chicago, US. The amazing thing was that the parts of the buildings were actually built on Malaysia's race track, and then transported into KL.

I am not sure whether i am comfortable about this, but it is actually made of reinforced concrete, rather than steel. The reason for this, Wikipedia tells me, is that the cost of imported steel (and lack of local steel) meant that it would have been far too expensive. Instead, they used super high strength concrete - which is apparently "twice as effective as steel in sway reduction". While that is comforting, the idea that you have 88 floors of concrete around you still makes you feel a little uncomfortable, should it all come tumbling down around you.

The design of the building is largely based on Islamic art, given that Malaysia is of the Muslim faith. If you fly over it and look straight down on it, it forms the 8 sides of the Islamic star.

My company is a tenant of the building - interestingly, the Malaysian government are very strict on who can be tenants of the building and companies need to pass strict criteria, including being a locally registered company, be in a certain industry and have a certain amount of turnover.

Given that we are tenants, I managed to get the company to book in advance my ticket up to the (usually fully booked out - its on a first come, first serve basis) Sky Bridge, which is the "the highest 2-story bridge in the world"(they seem to want to be "the highest" of this, the "highest of that" - men and their stoopid building competitions!).

Wikipedia says that it is "170m above the ground and 58 m long, weighing 750 tons". It apparently also a safety device so that people can evacuate one tower through the other tower (that said, 20,000 people trying to get across to another tower through a bridge? hmmm). Needless to say, after Sept 11 (where both towers simultaneous fell), they agreed while the tower was a good idea and the staircases were useful, the sheer amount of people getting out of BOTH twin towers was something they needed to consider. They are finding a solution to that as we speak.

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