The iconic Petronas Towers dominate the Kuala Lumpur skyline, becoming, as many great buildings do, a symbol of the city.
On a recent trip to Kuala Lumpur, I was able to get tickets up to the top (not a given as they do sell out).
Metal and glass and a bridge, after the jump.
I didn't know what to expect when I got to Kuala Lumpur. It's a city I'd heard of, but not one I knew much about. For one thing, it's hot. Even at the end of February, it was an oppressive 95 degrees with, I'm not sure, is it possible to have 9,000% humidity?
There's a business to the city, perhaps not as rushed and hectic as Hong Kong, but like most big cities, there's an undeniable feeling of people doing things.
Construction was what many were doing, and that's probably KL's biggest story. There's construction everywhere. KL is growing. Rapidly.
You buy tickets for a certain time, and you only get a limited amount at the top (about 15 minutes). This is disappointing, as I would have liked to have just chilled up there for a bit. It's not a big space, the viewing area, so a regimented schedule makes sense, I guess.
You start, however, in the basement. No bags allowed. You surrender them as you pass though security. Then the coolness begins: a safety briefing on smoke. Not about smoke mind you, but projected onto smoke. Well, a vapor anyway. It's a clever use for a screen (there are some pictures in the gallery), and reminds me of the captain's cabin in SeaQuest DSV.
Then you're squished into the elevator. There are no windows. Instead, big vertical flat panels give you a video of what it would look like if there were windows. Cheeky, that.
The first stop is the bridge between the twin towers. I was equally excited to see this bridge, one of the Tower's defining features. I have a thing for interstitial spaces like this. The view was great. Even though you're not that high (41st floor), peering out past the towers themselves plus the feeling that there's nothing below you for hundreds of feet, makes for a cool space.
Then after a few minutes you're herded back into the elevators for the ascent up to the top.
The viewing floor is on 86, and already the size of the tower has shrunk from its base. It's barely larger than your average sized house. The views, of course, are better. It's not entirely open, so you can't walk around the windows for 360 degrees, but you can see out each side. The city stretches out in all directions.
Then, after all too brief of a time, you're corralled back into the elevators for the decent back to Earth.
A note about height
I'm a bit of a building nerd, and when the Petronas Towers took the "tallest building" crown from the formerly-called Sears Tower, I scoffed. Petronas has 88 floors. The
Sears Willis Tower has 108, the World Trade Center had two more. Because the pointy bits at the top of Petronas aren't antennas -- instead, they're integral to the design -- the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (yes, there's a group that regulates these things), says the Petronas towers are taller. Harumph. Still, they're really tall and way cooler looking than the black Lego bricks of the Wills.
Of course, this is all moot as the Burj Khalifa has 163 floors and is more than a half-mile tall.
If you're in the area...
Kuala Lumpur is an interesting city, and definitely a rapidly growing one. As you'll see in one of the slides, there are plans for several other very tall buildings in the area around the Petronas Towers. I found nearby Singapore to be more interesting, honestly, but since they're so close, you could certainly do both on the same trip.
Got a question for Geoff? First, check out all the other articles he's written on topics like why all HDMI cables are the same, LED LCD vs. plasma, active versus passive 3D, and more. He's also done photo tours of Hobbiton, Abbey Road Studios, Meridian Audio, and B&W. You can send him a message on Twitter @TechWriterGeoff or Google+.