Singapore-Malaysia Trip: The Petronas Twin Towers

The Petronas Twin Towers was the tallest building in the world for a brief time until they were surpassed by the Taipei 101 in 2004. When the Twin Towers were nearing completion in 1996, there were some controversy over the height of the building.


At that time, the world’s tallest building was the Sears Tower in Chicago. However, when the Twin Towers were built, the total height of the building included the spire which extends just over 9m higher than the Sears Tower. The spire itself represents almost 10% of the entire height. Of course, there were protest around this. The Malaysian government argued that in previous classifications of tall buildings, the total height of buildings includes spires (case in point, the Empire State Building).

So, in response Sears Towers put up an antenna that protrudes higher than the Twin Towers. However, the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (the people who bestows rankings for tall buildings) ruled that the antenna on the Sears Towers were not an integral part of the design of the building and hence does not count toward the height. In fairness, the Council split the tall building categories into four distinct categories soon after.


The Twin Towers were built over three years. During those times, we saw how the building took shape and marvelled at how high the towers grew day after day. At its peak, they put up a floor every 5 days. The two buildings were built by two different companies (one Korean and the other Japanese), competing with each other to top up faster.

I remember then there were so much rumours about the towers. For one, there were rumours that the pilings were lost into a huge cavity underneath the site of the original location for the tower, resulting in the Towers being located at the fringe of the KLCC next to a very busy intersection. For sure, we know that the road next to the Towers developed huge sink holes during the construction. There was even a bungalow about 150m away that just collapsed in 30 minutes upon developing cracks then.

Oh yeah, the locals used to call that building “jagungs” which is Malay for corns.


The Twin Towers has a total of 88 storeys. In order to cool the entire complex and the towers, there were two huge District Cooling Plants (below) which provided chilled water to air condition the place. If this place goes offline, it will be unbearable to work in the Twin Towers.


On the 41st and 42nd storey is the Skybridge with connects both buildings. It was meant to be an alternative evacuation in the event of an emergency. This Skybridge is made famous by Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment. This skybridge is about the highest that is opened to the public.


At base of the building is the retail complex, called the Suria KLCC. The Suria KLCC is an upscale shopping complex and had won international awards.


There is no published occupation rate on the building. Rumour had it that the rents are so prohibitively expensive that only the richest of corporations is able to take up space in the building. One of the towers is taken up entirely by Petronas, the Malaysian oil company.


The Twin Towers were lighted up during the night and does really stand out in the skyline.

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  1. Rasa Malaysia

    Nice pictures. Even though they are no longer the tallest in the world, structural wise, they look much better than Taipei 101 in my opinion.

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