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Petronas Towers
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Vital Statistics:
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Completion Date: 1998
Cost: $1.6 billion
Height: 1,483 feet
Stories: 88
Materials: Concrete, Steel
Facing Materials: Aluminum, Stainless Steel
Engineer(s): Thornton-Tomasetti and Ranhill Bersekutu

Until 1998, the world's tallest skyscraper had always been in the United States. But that year, Malaysia's Petronas Towers laid claim to this distinction.

Petronas Towers
Click photo
for larger image.

Squeaking past the Chicago Sears Tower by 33 feet, the spires atop the Petronas Towers peak at an impressive 1,483 feet. Yet there's a controversy. The highest occupied floor in the Sears Tower is actually 200 feet higher than the top floor of the Petronas Towers, and its antennae stretch higher still.

So why are the Petronas Towers considered the world's tallest buildings? According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, spires count, but antennae don't. Spires do not contain floors, but they are counted in the world's tallest building race for one architectural reason: they're nice to look at.

Built over a former racetrack, the Petronas Towers reflect a unique blend of religion and economic prosperity. The $1.6 billion towers contain more than eight million square feet of shopping and entertainment facilities, underground parking for 4,500 cars, a petroleum museum, a symphony hall, a mosque, and a multimedia conference center.

Each tower's floor plan forms an eight-pointed star, a design inspired by traditional Malaysian Islamic patterns. The 88-story towers, joined by a flexible skybridge on the 42nd floor, have been described as two "cosmic pillars" spiraling endlessly towards the heavens.


Here's how this skyscraper stacks up against the biggest skyscrapers in the world.
(height, in feet)

Chart showing the relative size of the biggest skyscrapers in the world Petronas Towers
1,483'

Fast Facts:
  • The Petronas Towers were featured in the blockbuster movie Entrapment, starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
  • It took 36,910 tons of steel to build the Petronas Towers. That's heavier than 3,000 elephants!
  • It takes 90 seconds to travel from the basement parking lot to the top of each tower.
  • Together, the towers have 32,000 windows. It takes window washers an entire month to wash each tower just once!

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