They don’t come any bigger or stronger than Taipei 101 – the world’s tallest building, which is reportedly being built to such strict structural standards that it may even be able to withstand a 9/11-like strike by a jumbo jet.

Engineers in Taipei are putting the finishing touches to the 508 metre (1,667ft) tower, being constructed as a symbol of the resurgent identity of Taiwan.

When it opens at the end of this year or early next, its 101 floors and tall telecommunications antenna will take it past the 452 metre twin Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur as the world tallest building. It will also have the world’s fastest lifts, taking passengers from the ground to the top floor in 39 seconds – at a stomach churning 40mph.

It is an impressive demonstration of the financial, political and engineering prowess of this island of 22 million people, who struggle to achieve international recognition of statehood and are regarded by China as members of a renegade province.

The locally born architect CY Lee has designed the structure along a number of Asia themes, all intended to bring good fortune. The main section takes a bamboo shape, being divided into eight blocks of eight floors. Eight is considered a lucky number and the fast-growing, sturdy bamboo is seen as a model for the financial businesses that will be the building’s main tenants.

The most prominent exterior design feature is a giant copy of an ancient coin…
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