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The Petronas Twin Towers ( ) (also known as the Petronas Towers or just Twin Towers), in Kuala Lumpurmarker, Malaysiamarker are twin towers and were the world's tallest buildings before being surpassed by Taipei 101marker. However, the towers are still the tallest twin buildings in the world. They were the world's tallest buildings from 1998 to 2004 if measured from the level of the main entrance to the structural top, the original height reference used by the US-basedmarker Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat from 1969 (three additional height categories were introduced as the tower neared completion in 1996).

Comparison with other towers

In accordance to CTBUH, the pinnacles contributed to the overall height of the towers, thus surpassing the Willis Tower.
The Petronas Twin Towers were the tallest buildings in the world until Taipei 101 was completed in 2004, as measured to the top of their structural components (spires, but not antennas). Spires are considered integral parts of the architectural design of buildings, to which changes would substantially change the appearance and design of the building, whereas antennas may be added or removed without such consequences. The Petronas Twin Towers remain the tallest twin buildings in the world.

The Willis Towermarker and the World Trade Centermarker towers were each constructed with 110 occupied floors – 22 more than the Petronas Twin Towers’ 88 floors. The Willis Tower and the World Trade Center’s roofs and highest occupied floors substantially exceeded the height of the roof and highest floors of the Petronas Twin Towers. The Willis Tower’s tallest antenna is taller than the Petronas Twin Towers’ spires. However, in accordance to CTBUH regulations and guidelines, the antennas of the Willis Tower were not counted as part of its architectural features. The spires on the Petronas Towers are included in the height since they are not antenna masts. Therefore, the Petronas Twin Towers exceed the official height of the Willis Tower by 10 m, but the Willis Tower has more floors and much higher square footage.


Designed by Argentine-American architect César Pelli, the Petronas Towers were completed in 1998 after a seven year build and became the tallest buildings in the world on the date of completion. They were built on the site of Kuala Lumpur's race track. Because of the depth of the bedrock, the buildings were built on the world's deepest foundations. The 120-meter foundations, were built within 12 months by Bachy Soletanche, and required massive amounts of concrete.

The 88-floor towers are constructed largely of reinforced concrete, with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art, a reflection of Malaysia's Muslim religion. Another Islamic influence on the design is that the cross section of the towers is based on a Rub el Hizb (albeit with circular sectors added to meet office space requirements).

Due to a lack of steel and the huge cost of importing steel, the towers were constructed on a cheaper radical design of super high-strength reinforced concrete. High-strength concrete is a material familiar to Asian contractors and twice as effective as steel in sway reduction; however, it makes the building twice as heavy on its foundation than a comparable steel building. Supported by 23-by-23 meter concrete cores and an outer ring of widely spaced super columns, the towers use a sophisticated structural system that accommodates its slender profile and provides 560,000 square metres of column-free office space. Below the twin towers is Suria KLCCmarker, a shopping mall, and Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, the home of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.

Other buildings have used spires to increase their height but have always been taller overall to the pinnacle when trying to claim the title. In the aftermath of the controversy, the rules governing official titles were partially overhauled, and a number of buildings re-classified structural antenna as architectural details to boost their height rating (even though nothing was actually done to the building).

Tenants of the Petronas Twin Towers

A skybridge connects the two towers
An inside view of the skybridge
Tower One is fully occupied by Petronas and a number of its subsidiaries and associate companies, while the office spaces in Tower Two are mostly available for lease to other companies. A number of companies have offices in Tower Two, including Accenture, Al Jazeera English, Carigali Hess Bloomberg, Boeing, IBM, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, McKinsey & Co, TCS, HCL Technologies, Krawler Networks, Microsoft, The Agency (a modeling company) and Reuters.


Spanning below the building is the KLCC park with jogging and walking paths, a fountain with incorporated light show, wading pools, and a children's playground. Suria KLCC is one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia.


The towers feature a skybridge between the two towers on 41st and 42nd floors, which is the highest 2-story bridge in the world. It is not directly bolted to the main structure, but is instead designed to slide in and out of the towers to prevent it from breaking during high winds. The bridge is above the ground and long, weighing 750 tons. The same floor is also known as the podium, since visitors desiring to go to higher levels have to change elevators here. The skybridge is open to all visitors, but free passes (limited to 1700 people per day) must be obtained on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors are only allowed on the 41st floor as the 42nd floor can only be used by the tenants of the building.

The skybridge also acts as a safety device, so that in the event of a fire or other emergency in one tower, tenants can evacuate by crossing the skybridge to the other tower. The total evacuation triggered by a bomb hoax on September 12, 2001 (the day after the September 11 attacks destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York Citymarker) showed that the bridge would not be useful if both towers need to be emptied simultaneously, as the capacity of the staircases was insufficient for such an event. Plans thus call for the lifts to be used if both towers need to be evacuated, and a successful drill following the revised plan was conducted in 2005.

The lift system

The main bank of Otis lifts is located in the centre of each tower. All main lifts are double-decker with the lower deck of the lift taking passengers to odd numbered floors and upper deck to even numbered floors. In order to access an even numbered floor from ground level, passengers are required to use an escalator to access the upper deck of the elevator.

From the ground floor, there are three groups of lifts. The "short haul" group of 6 lifts take passengers to floors between level 2/3 and level 16/17. The "mid haul" group of 6 lifts take passengers to floors between level 18/19 and level 37/38. There is also a set of shuttle lifts that take passengers directly to levels 41/42. In order to get to levels above 41/42, passengers are required to take the shuttle lifts and then change lifts to the upper floors. These connecting lifts are placed directly above the lifts serving levels 2 to 38. The pattern now repeats with the upper levels, one set serving levels 43/44 to 57/58 and one set serving levels 59/60 to levels 73/74.

Apart from this main bank of lifts, there are a series of "connecting" lifts to take people between the groups. Unlike the main lifts, these are not the double-decker type. Two lifts are provided to take people from levels 37/38 to levels 41/42 (levels 39 and 40 are not accessible as office space). This avoids the need for someone situated at the lower half of the building to go down to the ground floor in order to gain access to the upper half of the building.

The lifts contain a number of safety features. It is possible to evacuate people from a lift stuck between floors by manually driving one of the adjacent lifts next to it and opening a panel in the wall. It is then possible for people in the stuck lift to walk between elevator cars. During an evacuation of the buildings, only the shuttle lift is allowed to be used, as there are only doors at levels G/1 and levels 41/42; therefore should there be a fire in the lower half of the building, this enclosed shaft would remain unaffected. Firefighter lifts are also provided incase of emergency.

Service building

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 for all 88 levels in both towers.

Notable events

Thousands of people were evacuated on September 12, 2001 after a bomb threat was phoned in the day after the September 11 attacks destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Bomb Disposal squads found no bomb in the Petronas towers but they evacuated everyone. Workers and shoppers were allowed to return three hours later, around noon. No-one was hurt during the evacuation.

On the evening of November 4, 2005, a fire broke out in the cinema complex of the Suria KLCC shopping centre below the Petronas Twin Towers, triggering panic among patrons who joined screaming in the thick, acrid smoke. There were no reports of injuries. The buildings were largely empty (except the shopping mall, Suria KLCC) because of the late hour; the only people involved were moviegoers and some diners in restaurants.

On the morning of September 1, 2009, French urban climber, Alain "Spiderman" Robert, using only his bare hands and feet and with no safety devices, scaled to the top of Tower Two in just under 2 hours after two previous efforts had ended in arrest. On March 20, 1997, police arrested him at the 60th floor, 28 floors away from the "summit." He made a second attempt on March 20, 2007, exactly 10 years later, and was stopped once again on the same floor (though on the other tower).

Popular culture

The Petronas Towers were a setting for some scenes in the 1999 film Entrapment starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It ends in a dramatic pursuit of the two stars by the Pasukan Gerakan Khas, eventually leading to Connery's capture and Zeta-Jones's escape. In the episode "Bound and Buried", in Life After People: The Series, the towers are shown collapsing 500 years after people due to corrosion and the weakening of the concrete columns. The towers also feature in three levels of the game Hitman 2: Silent Assassin where the player travels from one tower to another using the sky bridge, though it is unlike the real sky bridge; instead of being a narrow passageway, the sky bridge is wide and entered by breaking a panel of glass. The PS2 game Burnout Dominator features the Twin Towers as Spiritual Towers. Episode 22 from the anime series Cowboy Bebop shows what closely resembles the Petronas Twin Towers being blown up by a terrorist. This was taken off the air for a short time post-9/11. The Petronas Towers are also a major setting in the 2006 Bollywood film, Don - The Chase Begins Again, starring Shahrukh Khan and 2005 Kollywood film, Anniyan, directed by S. Shankar.Also, in the 2007 movie, Billa starring Ajith, Nayanthara, Namitha, a remake of the 1980 classic Billa by Rajnikanth, the Petronas Twin Towers are being seen as a major setting.In Joseph Vijay starrer Kuruvi you can see the Petronas towers.Followed by Surya Sivakumar's Ayan


Image:Skyscrapercompare.svg|Skyscraper comparisonImage:Torres Petronas Mayo 2004.jpg|The Petronas Towers, looking upwardsImage:19819733 de194019c1.jpg|From front-central-base entranceImage:KLCC inside1.JPG|Suria KLCCmarker shopping complex at the base of the towersImage:KLCC inside2.JPG|Part of the Suria KLCC shopping complexImage:KLCC PetronasTowers.JPG|Front facade of the towersImage:KLCC twin towers1.JPG|Towers from the water fountain in KLCC ParkImage:KL Outing 022b.jpg|Towers with Suria KLCC and water fountainImage:Petronas at night.jpg|Front facade of the towersImage:Petronas Twin Towers 2.jpg|The towersImage:Twin Towers at sunset.JPG|The towersImage:SuriaKLCC-atrium.JPG|Looking up from concourse level in Suria KLCC's atrium spaceImage:KLCC-evening.jpg|From the flyover bridgeImage:KLCC-fountainview.jpg|View from the public parkImage:KLCC_lights.jpg|Galactica Night at KLCC Petronas Twin TowersImage:KLCC-night_tree.jpg|From the open public children park/playgroundImage:Genting_view.jpg|Kuala Lumpur from Genting Highland ResortImage:KLCCpark-fountain.JPG|The water fountain at the rear entrance of Suria KLCCImage:SkyBridge.JPG|The 41st floor skybridgeImage:Ptwintowers.JPG|Towers at nightImage:Skybridge.JPG|Close up view of the skybridgeImage:Petronas_rain.jpg|The twin towers in the rainImage:Petronas3_night.jpg|Petronas Towers at NightImage:Petronas Twin Towers.JPG|Looking up from the base of one of the TowersImage:KLCC park fountain night.jpg|KLCC park fountain, at nightImage:Petronas Towers at Night - from the base upwards.jpg|Looking up from the base of one of the Towers at nightImage:Petronas Towers at Night.jpg|Petronas Towers at NightFile:KLCC-viewed from ground level.JPG|A view of the facade details of the towers from the street levelFile:Klcc bustle area detail.jpg| Bustle Area Detail.File:KLCC Lobby ceiling detail.jpg| Ceiling Detail at the Lobby


A quote by the building's main architect:

"According to Lao Tse, the reality of a hollow object is in the void and not in the walls that define it.
He was speaking, of course, of spiritual realities.
These are the realities also of the Petronas Towers.
The power of the void is increased and made more explicit by the pedestrian bridge that ... with its supporting structure creates a portal to the sky ... a door to the infinite."
::—Cesar Pelli, architect (1995)

See also


  1. Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat preamble to High Rise Database: other measurements of height"
  2. Lee, C. Y.; Binder, Georges (2008). Taipei 101. Images Publishing. p. 7.
  3. Palmer, Alison Lee (2008). Historical Dictionary of Architecture. Scarecrow Press. p. 209.
  4. The Willis Tower.
  5. Sebestyén, Gyula (1998). Construction: craft to industry. Taylor & Francis. p. 205.
  6. Žaknić, Ivan; Smith, Matthew; Rice, Doleres B. (1998). 100 of the world's tallest buildings‎. Images Publishing. p. 208.
  7. Baker Jr, Clyde N.; Drumwright, Elliott; Joseph, Leonard; Azam, Tarique (November 1996). "The Taller the Deeper." Civil Engineering–ASCE. 66 (11): 3A-6A.
  8. Petronas Towers Base.
  9. Wee, C. J. Wan-Ling (2002). Local cultures and the "new Asia": the state, culture, and capitalism in Southeast Asia. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 193.
  10. Moskal, Greg (2004). Modern Buildings: Identifying Bilateral and Rotational Symmetry. Rosen Classroom. p. 28.
  11. Wells, Matthew (2005). Skyscrapers: structure and design. Laurence King Publishing. p. 170.
  12. "Information Malaysia." (2005). Berita Publ. Sdn. Bhd.
  13. Taranath, Bungale S. (2004). Wind and earthquake resistant buildings: structural analysis and design. CRC Press. p. 748.
  14. Chandran, Sheela (August 25, 2005). Documentary on the Petronas Twin Towers. The Star .
  15. de Ledesma, Charles; Lewis, Mark; Savage, Pauline (2003). Rough guide to Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei‎. Rough Guides. p. 132.
  16. Frankham, Steve (2008). Malaysia and Singapore. Footprint Travel Guides. p. 68.
  17. Moskal, Greg (2004). Modern Buildings: Identifying Bilateral and Rotational Symmetry. Rosen Classroom. p. 26.
  18. Chang, Fu-Kuo (2005). Structural health monitoring, 2005: advancements and challenges for implementation. DEStech Publications, Inc. p. 270.
  19. The Petronas Towers Skybridge.
  20. Rowthorn, Chris; Cohen, Muhammad; Williams, China (2008). Lonely Planet Borneo. Lonely Planet. p. 71.
  21. Wood, A.; Chow, W. K.; McGrail D. (2005). "The Skybridge as an Evacuation Option for Tall Buildings for Highrise Cities in the Far East." Journal of Applied Fire Science. 13 (2): 113–124.
  22. World's Tallest Towers in Malaysia Evacuated After Threats. People's Daily. September 12, 2001.
  23. Petronas Towers Lift System.
  24. Wong, Ronald. Using Lift as an Alternative Means of Egress for Evacuation. The Institution of Fire Engineers (Hong Kong Branch).
  25. Yoong, Sean (September 12, 2001). World's tallest towers, IBM building in Malaysia evacuated after threats. Associated Press.
  26. Fire Forces Evacuation at Malaysia Towers. CBS News. November 4, 2005.
  27. 'Spiderman' scales Malaysia tower "BBC News Online", September 1, 2009.
  28. 'Spiderman’ has another go at Twin Towers. The Star . March 21, 2007.
  29. Databank: Petronas Towers. PBS.
  30. Dupré, Julie (2001). Skyscrapers. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. p. 114.

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