Petronas Towers
(2.3 million ft2)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1998)
88 stories, 1,483 feet, 452 meters
Cesar Pelli & Associates, Architect. Thornton-Tomasetti and Ranhill Bersekutu Sdn. Bhd., Engineers. Mayjus and SKJ Joint Ventures, Contractors. Kuala Lumpur City Centre Holdings Sendrian Berhad, Developer and Current Owner.

On April 15, 1996, the Council on Tall Buildings named the Petronas Towers the tallest in the world, passing the torch to a new continent. Although the project's developers, a consortium of private investors in association with the Malaysian government and Petronas, the national oil company, had not originally set out to surpass Chicago's Sears Tower, they did aspire to construct a monument announcing Kuala Lumpur's prominence as a commercial and cultural capital. In the design of American architect Cesar Pelli they found a winning scheme--twin towers of elegant proportions with a slenderness ratio (height to core width) of 9.4--that would capture not only the title but the public imagination.

Pelli's design answered the developer's call to express the _culture and heritage of Malaysia_ by evoking Islamic arabesques and employing repetitive geometries characteristic of Muslim architecture. In plan, an 8-point star formed by intersecting squares is an obvious reference to Islamic design; curved and pointed bays create a scalloped facade that suggests temple towers. The identical towers are linked by a 41st-story bridge, creating a dramatic gateway to the city.

The building's structure consists of high-strength concrete, a material which is both familiar to Asian contractors and is twice as effective as steel in sway reduction. Supported by 75-by-75-foot' concrete cores and an outer ring of widely-spaced super columns, the towers showcase a sophisticated structural system that accommodates its slender profile and provides from 14,000 to 22,000 square feet of column-free space per floor. Although the floor plates are small by U.S. standards, the breathtaking views from the perimeter offices will surely be considered just compensation by tenants.