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Taipei 101 Building
cwo3ward @ 07/ 25/ 2009

From our hotel room, we were able to see the Taipei 101 tower. It stuck out like a sore thumb, because there really aren’t very many tall buildings in Taipei. Being December, the weather was fairly warm (about 68 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit). But, there was a lot of haze in the air, so my photos aren’t as clear as I would have liked. I did enjoy the fact that I could go around in shirt sleeves most of the day. There was a slight wind and it usually felt good and didn’t make me feel like it was winter. My wife, on the other hand, said she felt cold most of the time and always wore a sweater or jacket. So that should give you an idea of what the weather was like, at least for the week that I was there (Christmas Day to New Year’s Day).

 

We took a taxi to the Taipei 101 building. The cab driver dropped us off in the basement, where there is a taxi pick-up and drop-off point. From there, we took the escalators and walked around looking in all of the fabulous stores. What a spectacular building! Many of the world’s most famous brands are represented in the shopping area, such as Gucci. There are 101 stores in the building, according to the Taipei 101 Guide Book I purchased in the gift shop. On the day that we were there, a Ferrari display was being set up in the grand lobby. We asked one of the guards about the display and he told us there was to be an “invitation-only” exhibit for buyers that would take place the next day. Only people who had been invited by Ferrari would be allowed to look at the cars up close and personal. Everyone else would have to stay behind the crowd-control fence they had set up. There were about 10 cars under covers and a lot of people scurrying to get the exhibit finished and cleaned up. I waited for my invitation to be delivered to my hotel that night, but alas, it never arrived.

 

Our first goal was to visit the observation deck on the 89th floor. To get there, you have to take a special elevator. Now, this is no ordinary elevator. It is the fastest elevator in the world. I didn’t expect too much from an elevator ride, but I’m here to tell you, it was impressive! Wow!! The elevator is quite large and can accommodate 20 people or so at a time. There are people wearing various uniforms guiding everyone into and out of the elevators. All of them were very polite and helpful. It was such a refreshing experience to actually receive excellent customer service. I’ve gotten used to what passes for service in the USA. We got into the elevator and they turn out the lights and have a little show, with stars on the ceiling and a graphic of the Taipei 101 tower showing your progress toward the 89th floor. The speed of the elevator was truly breathtaking. I’ve been in the elevators at the World Trade Center and the Empire State Building. They were nothing compared to the smooth, quiet and fast ride afforded us in Taipei 101. I highly recommend this ride up, as it will leave you breathless!

 

Once on the 89th floor observation deck, you can line up to get an audio device and go all the way around the floor to listen to the self-guided tour. This is not a new idea, as most tall buildings have a similar way of providing an informative visit. There are some shops and a small café where you can get coffee or ice cream and sit and enjoy the view out the windows. I bought a book about the building and a calendar to put in my office. The book is quite good and provides lots of interesting information about Taipei 101 and other places to see and visit in Taipei. One really interesting thing I learned about the building is that they have built an anti-sway system into it to help keep the building steady in high winds. It consists of very heavy metal plates that were cut into circles to form a giant, 660 metric-ton sphere, used to counterbalance (or dampen) the movements of the building. Taiwan gets its share of Typhoons, so this “Tuned Mass Damper” as it’s called was a design necessity to keep the building occupants comfortable in high winds. While you are on the 89th floor, you can go to the center of the building and there it is. They have a video for you to watch that shows how they made the giant ball and how it was installed into the building. It’s quite a sight. They will soon open the 88th floor, where you can see the “damper baby”, as they call it, from underneath.  I took some pictures of the damper baby and they are included in the photos below. The official guidebook claims that TAIPEI 101 is an acronym for:

 

Technology

Art

Innovation

People

Environment

Identity

 

The 101 stands for the number of floors, but also represents 101%, the desire to go above and beyond 100%. I enjoyed the visit to this massive building. It was very modern and the employees of the stores and the staff were very polite and helpful. I recommend visiting if you are in Taipei. The video below is of the tuned mass damper (the "damper baby") and the progress display that shows how fast the elevator travels to the observation deck.

What were the WOW moments you experienced?
I would have to say that the elevator ride was amazing, to say the least. It was totally unexpected to be able to ride on something that fast and smooth. It's amazing what the designers of this elevator have been able to achieve.
Taiwan, Taipei, Taipei 101
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