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The Taipei 101
The Taipei 101 tower stands in the background of this portrait

Taiwan’s strong economy has improved the lives of many Taiwanese. Personal income, education levels, and health care have all steadily improved since the 1950s. The island’s increasing prosperity has allowed cities such as Taipei to grow as financial and cultural centers. Taipei is located at the northern tip of the island. It is Taiwan’s largest city, with 2.6 million residents. The city is home to National Taiwan University, the Presidential Building, the National Central Library, the Taipei World Trade Center, and other important government, business, and cultural buildings.

In 1997 the Taipei city government began plans for Taipei 101. It was planned for 101 floors. The city was developing a new business area, the Hsinyi District. Taipei’s mayor, Chen Shui-bian, wanted a tower as a landmark and a business center for Hsinyi. In October the city government signed a contract with C. Y. Lee & Partners, a Taiwanese architectural firm. Designing a 101-floor tower was a challenge. Every year, Taiwan is subject to monsoons (winds that bring heavy rain and winter cold) and typhoons (hurricanes). The storms can produce winds up to 100 miles (161 kilometers) per hour. In addition, the construction site was only 650 feet (200 m) from an earthquake fault (a crack or weakness in Earths crust). Taipei 101 would have to be flexible enough to withstand high winds. It would also have to be strong enough to survive earthquakes.

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