I have to admit it. I’ve always been one to harbor a few obscure obsessions. Things that don’t really make any sense to be obsessed over, and should be, at best maybe, casually interesting.
Like any other kid growing up I was constantly focused on my physical surroundings. This too, developed into an obsession. I enjoyed trying to understand my spatial world and how everything fit together, as if in understanding it all I might gain the awareness to mentally deconstruct my surroundings as if they were little more than thousands or millions of Lego bricks, methodically patterned but ultimately simply, put into place.
So in those moments, or points where my love of spatial things and my habit for obscure obsession collide, they do so with fury. The end result is my being entrenched in fascination with things that instantly take me back to every fiber of childlike wonder and exuberance that I still possess.
One of those collisions would be my obsession with skyscrapers.
I can’t get enough of them. Even in cities that I’ve been in and out of dozens of times- Los Angeles for example- I can’t help but crane my head and tilt my neck back and just stare up. If I didn’t have anywhere to be, anyone nagging me, or people constantly remarking at how much I expose myself as a dork in such instances…. well, I’d probably just stand there for a few hours staring up. I could probably give you, in order, and to the exact foot, the height of the ten tallest buildings in Los Angeles. Does that serve any purpose? We can both answer that question instantly. But, it does do a little to provide context to my degree of obsession.
Kuala Lumpur has been just that kind of a place (though far better than Los Angeles in context of skyscrapers and architecture). I can’t help slamming my head into taxi or metro train windows like a cat following a laser. It doesn’t even matter that I might have passed that skyscraper yesterday. Still gonna paste myself to the glass in case I see something I didn’t see yesterday, or maybe try to size it up to the high rise next to it, or guess its height, or compare my guess of its height to high rises I’m more familiar with, or draw architectural comparisons to similar ones, or….
…Yup. That’s usually how it goes.
Kuala Lumpur has indulged my lifelong passion of skyscrapers like few places, and like no place has since I was in Chicago almost a year ago to the day. Seeing the Petronas Twin Towers was a childhood dream come true, and seeing how much the skyline has developed and grown since the picture books I used to fawn over were first printed has been even more exciting. Maybe you can understand this fascination of mine. Maybe it is just an obscure obsession. Either way, I wanted to share a little bit of the Kuala Lumpur skyline through photos I’ve taken and facts that I’ve learned from the past week.
Pictured above, the crown jewel of the Kuala Lumpur skyline, the Petronas Twin Towers that stand at 1,480 feet. They were at one time (just over a decade ago) the tallest building(s) in the world, and although they no longer are, locals are proud to point out that they are still the tallest pair of buildings in the world. The Petronas Towers took the title of world’s tallest from the Willis Tower in Chicago, formerly (and probably better) known as the Sears Tower. To be totally fair about the Petronas Towers’ official listed height (this is the being-a-dork part factored in), it is only greater than that of the Willis Tower because the spires on top are added to its total architectural height.
To make a (hopefully) reasonable analogy, imagine being 6’5″ and standing next to someone who’s 5’6″ putting their arm in the air, and since it reaches above your head they claim to be of greater height. It might not be the best analogy, but maybe this picture will help.
Since the spires of the Willis (Sears) Tower are not part of the architectural vision (and were a later add on) they aren’t factored into the overall height as they are for the Petronas Towers. Regardless of my tangent that possibly one out of every 100 people would find interesting, the Petronas Towers are a modern marvel of architecture and the single most spectacular attraction of Kuala Lumpur.
The above photo is of another pair of towers, yet to be finished, but directly across the street from the far taller Petronas Towers. In addition to its remarkable architecture, Kuala Lumpur is one of the leading cities in the world movement towards sustainable urban design and incorporated greenery. Many high rises as tall as 600feet have rooftop gardens, and it is not uncommon to see small gardens popping out of the sides of various buildings throughout downtown. The buildings pictured above were very interesting because the exterior is clearly designed to not only house, but apparently encourage the use of plants. Each one of those small white boxes climbing up the outside of both buildings is a planter box, and the exterior frame of the building looked as if it is supposed to house extensive vining. Ideas like these, brilliant in their simplicity but surprisingly effective, often cut down maintenance expenses, in particular air temperature control costs within the building because it is as if the building has been coated in a green shield soaking up the sun and in doing so fueling its own growth and maintenance.
Another interesting building in the Kuala Lumpur skyline is the IB Tower (pictured center left). The IB Tower, at 900feet, is one of the tallest in the city and has an unusual cuboid structure. The design gives it deceptive size. Looking far smaller up close, its true size is only revealed once a good deal of distance and perspective are added to the picture.
So I appreciate that you let me get this out of my system. I’m sure it’s not hard to believe that my neck is a little sore this week, but we all have to indulge in our obsessions every once in a while.
And in case you were wondering, the 4th tallest building in Los Angeles is the Gas Company Building at 749feet.
Fact check me if you dare.