Myself at the Skybridge
A 15-minute visit at the middle of the twin towers
BEING A CIVIL ENGINEER, I am always fascinated with mega-structures - buildings, transport networks, tunnels, bridges, towers, dams, and other construction works having interesting characteristics; not only with the height but also in terms of how the structure was built as well as the amenities and features within it. One of them is the popular Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) as the second tallest building in the world which I visited in April 2004.
The Twins (Petronas) stripped off the crown from Sears Tower, Chicago (US) where I also visited in 1997 a year before the Twins got the title. By 2003, Petronas is already surpassed by Taipei 101 (Taiwan) for being the current tallest building with a towering height of 509 meters (1677 feet), 56 meters (224 feet) higher than Petronas. Even though it is considered now as the second tallest building, Petronas still remains as an interesting economic icon in Asia which draws a lot of tourists and the like any time of the year.
How to go there?
The Twins (Petronas) can be reached by air thru KL International Airport (2006 World Best airport), or by land car, bus or train from Singapore
or Thailand. It takes 45 minutes by car and 20 minutes by bullet train from the KLI airport. My visit to Petronas was not planned since my final destination was Bangkok from Singapore by train. I dont have any idea how it work being my first land trip to Thailand via Malaysia. I was instructed by my friend who happened to work in Singapore that I better take the train than bus for safety reason. I chose the former, however I have to purchase my connecting train ticket in Kuala Lumpur since the train going to Thailand is being managed by different operators. In other words, I have to wait for 6 hours in the central train station in Kuala Lumpur to catch my train to Thailand after a 4-hour long trip from Singapore. If I decided to take the bus from Singapore, it will only take 2 1/2 hours to reach Petronas. So, to make my short stay in Kuala Lumpur interesting, I decided to take the bullet train and reached the city centre within 10 minutes.
Petronas is located in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur and I observed that the place is not busy compare to
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Manila, Bangkok or Singapore downtown areas. I took off from the train just in front of the twin towers and proceeded to adjoining area connecting to the towers which also serves as the main entrance at the foot of the building. This where a shopping mall called Suria KLCC is situated.
What is in there?
Suria KLCC is a six-level crescent shape shopping mall with a centre court to have clearer view of the tip of the twin towers through the transparent rooftop which also allows a natural lighting of the area from the sun. The mall caters to over 300 stores, including cinemas, restaurants, coffee shops and food courts. As you moved towards the Information Desk which is strategically located at the centre of the lobby, I was able to view some of the finest Malaysian products such as jewelleries, silk clothes, and handicrafts.
Upon reaching the front desk where two young ladies gave freely their greeting smiles to me, one of them handed over a three-fold flyer of the towers, including a free day pass/ticket to reach the Skybridge at levels 41 and 42. Level 42 serves as the Sky lobby of the building. She told me that the visit to the Skybridge will end at 4pm, which is almost ten minutes away from the closing time. Without any further question, I hurried up towards the escalator and proceeded to the evaluator flat form where people are given hanging IDs as visitors tag. Luckily, I was the last person to be guided in the area but there were still few people taking pictures in the Skybridge who had the chance to stay longer just before the closing time. Being there between the twin towers is indescribable and can not be put into words. I felt that my body is too small in this towering structure overlooking the low-lying buildings beside it and other adjoining buildings, including the KLCC Park and Masjid As-Syakirin mosque. It will not take more than 15 minutes to have a complete 360 degrees view of the area and a full appreciation of the city centre, including the Mandarin Oriental hotel and ESSO building, and other structures that my eyes could still see from the Skybridge. Before I left Petronas after reaching the Skybridge, I went back to the mall and purchased a silk cloth for my beloved mother.
Despite being a stranger in the place, I still maintain my sense of direction and able to reach the KLCC Park. This park features a childrens playground, wading pool, a fountain, footpaths, murals, sculptures and jogging tracks, including trees and shrubs found in the country.
Aside from the shopping mall and the park, Petronas also offers a world-class concert area called, Dewan Filharmonik Petronas with an 865 seating capacity at the podium of the building. The place also serves as the home of the 105 piece Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra having incorporated a Malaysian architectural design thru motifs and patterns inside the hall. Finally, within the shopping mall area at Levels 3 and 4, the Galeri Petronas and the popular Petrosains (Petroleum Discovery Centre) are located, respectively. Petrosains is an interactive science centre that allows visitors to interact with the exhibits on petroleum science.
Any interesting fact/figure about it?
-The towers were designed by the Argentinean-American architect Cesar Pelli and being considered as the most complex mixed-use building in the world
-Height is 452 meters above the ground with 88 stories, and 300,000 tons -weight per tower.
-Length of the Skybridge is 58.4 meters with 170 meters high from the ground. An annex that reaches 44th floor is attached to each tower. The double-decked Skybridge facilitates the movement between the towers and as an escape route in case of emergency.
-Consist of 765 stair flights with 5,400 parking bays. There are 10 escalators for each tower, and 29- double-decker high-speed passenger lifts for maximum of 26 people where the executive lifts are the longest rise in any office in Malaysia and reaching the top floor within 90 seconds for a maximum of 10 people.
-Total built-up area is 395,000 square meters and 213,750 square meters usable space
-The design of the floor plate is based on simple Islamic geometric forms of two interlocking squares to create a shape of eight-pointed stars which also describes important Islamic principles: Unity within unity, harmony, stability and rationality. There are 8 semi-circles superimposed in the inner angles of the interlocked squares for usable floor space.
-It consumed about 83,500 square meters of stainless steel cladding, 77,000 square meters of vision glass, 160,000 cubic meters of concrete, and 36,910 tons of steel.
FINALLY, my short visit to Petronas was a rewarding experience and having the chance again inside another mega building in the world was a worthwhile undertaking for an engineer. The ambience standing inside the Skybridge is not the same way when I was inside the top deck of Sears Tower (Chicago). There is a big difference between these magnificent structures in terms of viewing angles of the surrounding skyline. Unfortunately, there is not much towering structures could be seen around the Twins compared to Sears. However, what you can expect is not a jungle of buildings but instead low-lying infrastructures, buildings, and greeneries which dominate my vision - an optimistic view of Malaysia’s vast richness land resource for future development.
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