World's Second Tallest Building Tops Out
Since launching construction five years ago, the Merdeka 118 skyscraper in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has officially topped out at over 2,227 feet.
The 118-story structure is reported to be the second tallest building in the world, following the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In a ceremony celebrating the spire's completion last week, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob called the project an “iconic tower for the future.”
“This is not only a great achievement in the field of engineering,” Yaakob told reporters, “but it also further strengthens Malaysia's position as a modern and developed country.”
First announced in 2010, construction broke ground on Merdeka 118 in the historic district of Kuala Lumpur five years ago, despite concerns expressed by local heritage campaigners. The skyscraper overlooks the Stadium Merdeka, where former leader Tunku Abdul Rahman declared Malaysian independence in 1957.
According to reports, the structure was previously on track to open to the public this year but was postponed in March 2020 after work was temporarily halted during strict COVID-19 lockdowns.
The world's second tallest building has just topped-out in Malaysia. Merdeka PNB 118 rises 678.9-metres above Kuala Lumpur (and knocks China's Shanghai Tower into third place) - https://t.co/vJE3KLYjns #construction #skyscraper #architecture #loveconstruction pic.twitter.com/70pcpm2lCh— The B1M (@TheB1M) December 2, 2021
Designed by Australian firm Fender Katsalidis, the building features a triangular faceted glass facade, reportedly inspired by patterns found in Malaysian art. In a press release, the firm expanded on its design choices, saying that the structure “symbolically (represents) the rich cultural mix that defines the people of the country.”
“In addition, the achievement of creating the second tallest building in the world celebrates the years of planning, problem-solving, collaboration and human endeavor required to realize a building of this complexity,” said one of Fender Katsalidis’ founding partners, Karl Fender.
“Achieving this height milestone is a welcome bonus.”
Once completed, Merdeka 118 will offer 3.1 million square feet of floor space. While half of this space has been reserved for offices, the tower is also slated to host a mall, a mosque, a Park Hyatt hotel and Southeast Asia's highest observation deck. The four-acre site will also feature various public spaces and a park at ground level.
Construction of Merdeka 118 tower is expected to reach completion in late 2022.
Other Towering Structures
Some years ago, in 2016, the Shanghai Tower reached completion, and at the time, was reported to be the second tallest building in the world. Measuring 632 meters (2,073 feet), its height made the building the tallest in its city; the tallest in its country; and the tallest in all of Asia.
International design firm Gensler wrote on its website that the new tower in Shanghai is not just tall. It’s also one of the most sustainable buildings in the world thanks to “strategies and public spaces that set new standards for green community.”
The design firm said the 121-story building will be registered for a high level of building certification from the China Green Building Committee and the U.S. Green Building Council.
Shanghai Tower’s “traditional design-influenced Jin Mao Tower (designed by SOM and completed in 1999) represents our past, the Shanghai World Financial Centre (by KPF, completed 2008) represents our present, but the Shanghai Tower represents China’s boundless future,” Gensler’s Xia Jun told Architectural Review just before the building reached completion during the last week of 2015.
The Chinese government also said the building is “a symbol of a nation whose future is filled with limitless opportunities,” the magazine reported.
More recently, in 2019, Singapore was reported to celebrate the completion of a pair of 140-meter-high (459-feet-high) concrete module towers.
According to Bouygues Batiment International—the construction company that built the development in collaboration with its modular construction laboratory Dragages Singapore—the Clement Canopy buildings have broken the record for the world’s tallest towers using modular construction.
Unlike traditional construction, where a team builds onsite, much of the project was manufactured offsite prior to assembling the modules onsite. According to Bouygues Batiment International's head of modular construction, Aurélie Cleraux, "Each module is around 85% finished offsite, before then being assembled onsite.”
Composed of 1,899 modules, the structures were precast from concrete in a Senai, Malaysia-based yard, and afterward sent to a factory in Tuas, West Singapore, where more technical and architectural work was completed such as coatings, waterproofing, tiling, electricity and plumbing.
After completing both preconstruction phases, the modules were then transported to what would become a residential and student district and were stacked according to a sequencing program to build the towers. During this time, the Clement Canopy’s concrete core was also built.
The Clement Canopy towers are composed of 505 luxury residential apartments, ranging from two to four bedrooms, facades made of concrete and aluminum, which have been rendered and coated, in addition to a swimming pool complex located at the base of the development.