The Petronas Twin Towers, A Towering Success

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With the first occupants moving into the Petronas Twin Towers ten years ago, we thought that now would make an opportune moment to give you a few facts and figures about Malaysia’s most famous building.


The Towers were topped-out in March 1996 and occupation began in early 1997. However, the grand opening wasn’t held until Merdeka Day on 31 August, 1999 .

Costing a whopping US$1.2bn and uniquely designed by Cesar Pelli & Associates, the structure rises to 1,483ft (451.9m) in height and is 33ft higher than the Sears Tower . It has 88 floors and the sky bridge sits 175m above street level.

The architect, Cesar Pelli, is a former dean of Yale University ’s School of Architecture . He also designed Canary Wharf in London , and the World Financial Center in Manhattan , New York City.

The Petronas Twin Towers were the tallest buildings in the world from April 15th, 1996 until October 17th, 2003 when Taipei 101 ( Financial Center ) was topped out at 508m (1,676ft)

The Twin Towers are a striking combination of glass-and-steel covering an interior structure made of concrete. As such it is the largest concrete building in the world.

On March 20th, 1997 , French urban climber, Alain “Spiderman” Robert, using only his bare hands and feet and with no safety devices, scaled the building’s exterior glass and steel wall. Police arrested him at the 60th floor, 28 floors away from the “summit”. He made a second attempt exactly 10 years later, and was stopped once again on the same floor (though on the other tower).

The floor plans are based on an eight-pointed star, this is believed to have been an idea by the former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. He chose the shape because it is an Islamic symbol that shows strength and grace.


Tower One is currently being occupied by Petronas, the state-owned petroleum corporation. Tower Two is being occupied by Petronas’ associate companies while the remaining space is being leased out to multinationals.

In an unusual move, a different construction company was hired for each of the towers, and they were made to compete against each other. Eventually the builders of Tower Two won the race, despite starting a month behind Tower One.

All the main elevators in the Towers are double-decker with the lower deck of the elevator taking you to odd numbered floors and upper deck taking you to the even numbered floors. To get to an even numbered floor from ground level, one is required to use an escalator to access the upper deck of the elevator.

The service building is to the east of the Petronas Towers and contains the services required to keep the building operational, such as dissipating the heat from the air-conditioning system.


This article has been edited for Expat Go

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