Building Petronas Towers
Tenth anniversary special issue articleoriginally published in February 2003.
by Cesar Pelli and Michael J. Crosbie
The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, now the tallest buildings on earth, are among the architectural wonders of the world. The story of their construction is one of many challenges, and the resulting design, by Cesar Pelli & Associates, reflects a melding of East and West.
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From the West, the Petronas Towers embody the great spirit of buildings that reach to the heavens, a spirit born on the plains of the American Midwest and now found on nearly every continent on earth. The towers reflect the latest technology in making tall buildings, with modern materials such as stainless steel cladding, which makes these spires glisten on the skyline.
From the East, the design embraces the architecture and decorative arts of Malaysia. When viewed in plan, the towers appear as two overlapping squares — interlocking heaven and earth — to create an eight-pointed star, which is further refined with half-circles between the star points. The spirit of the geometry is Islamic, the dominant Malaysian culture, and the geometric pattern is found throughout the country in screens, architectural ornament, and decorative arts.
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This article is excerpted from Petronas Towers: The Architecture of High Construction by Cesar Pelli and Michael J. Crosbie, with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons.
The Petronas Towers under construction in Kuala Lumpur.
Photo: J. Pickard/CP&A
Cross section through the Petronas Towers diagramming the elevator master plan.
Image: Cesar Pelli & Associates
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