Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Twin Towers

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

With their majestic silhouette and imposing height, the Petronas Twin Towers celebrate Malaysia’s emergence as a global commercial center while also honouring the country’s cultural heritage. The towers, a modernist take on the traditional Islamic minaret, also represent something of a seismic shift in architecture: They’re the first structures outside the United States to claim the title of world’s tallest buildings, a ranking they held from 1998 to 2004.

Built to house the headquarters of Petronas, the national petroleum company of Malaysia, the towers are extraordinarily slender by engineering standards – a fact that created challenges for Otis.

Without enough space for the conventional configuration of side-by-side elevator hoistways, Otis devised a system of double-deck elevators to reduce the number of hoistways needed. The towers are equipped with 58 double-deck elevators and 18 single elevators.

The towers are clad in panels of glass and stainless steel, creating an effect that architect César Pelli called “multifaceted diamonds sparkling in the sun.”

The floor-plate of each tower is formed by two interlocking squares with small circular infills. These geometric figures are said to symbolize unity, harmony, stability and rationality – all important principles of Islam. The towers feature a series of setbacks as they taper skyward to a height of 1,483 ft.