Petronas towers

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  • Publicado : 9 de junio de 2011
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Skyscrapers symbolize the greatness and power of a country. Had always been an American competition between New York and Chicago. But then a new country joined the race, the Southeast Asia began the decade of the 90 with the appearance of the major emerging economies of the world.
They wanted to show the world that existed. A country between them, Malaysia, wanted to put on the map breaking theAmerican monopoly of the construction of megastructures.

His prime minister, Mahathir Mohammad, was set a challenge to show the world that Malaysia was there, and believed that with a big skyscraper they would get it.
The plan began in 1991. His idea was to use the land where the racecourse was in Kuala Lumpur to raise a pair of giant skyscrapers to house the Malaysian national oil company(Petronas), which was the largest company in the country.
But there was a problem, the Prime Minister wanted them to be very high but also to be built as the Islamic style, and this wasn`t easy. The responsible for realizing this idea in a final design was the architect Cesar Pelli, who had to study very hard the proposal and takes 8 months to develop the final draft that satisfied all parts.
Hisfinal idea was that the floor of the buildings had the Islamic star shape, that in their culture symbolizes order and harmony. Although the buildings had to achieve the desired surface and he made a small change introducing semicircular forms to the plant.

He added a bridge halfway up the towers that joined them and symbolized the door of the new Malaysia. Malaysian authorities loved thisconcept.
Now it was time to materialize the project. The manager was the civil engineer Charlie Thorton. A specialist in skyscrapers. Thorton realized that if the towers were 15 meters higher they would exceed the Sears Tower, the tallest building in the world. Malaysian Prime Minister took the opportunity to build the tallest building in the world to show his greatness. The tower would measure 450meters.
The lead time was very limited. Normally would have taken 8 years to build, but the Malaysian budget could only afford to do it in 6. To keep the builders encouraged, it was stipulated that for each day of delay they would have to pay 500.000 euros. Then the Malays did something very unusual, awarded the contracts for the towers to two different companies. The Prime Minister thought that thecompetition would help to meet deadlines. This required to work tirelessly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with an enormous pressure.
To lead both teams, the Malays chose the best experts. Came to New York and hired two of the best engineers in vertical construction. But they found they couldn't even start, had a big problem with the ground. It had never been made a geological survey of the areaand engineers needed to know the composition of the soil before beginning to build. This was a break that cost thousands of dollars every day that was wasted. Geologists made hundreds of holes to take samples, looking for a rock layer, something solid on which build the towers, but the study results were disastrous. They found that they were located on limestone decomposed ,soft and brittle . Thesoil would sink under the heavy weight of the towers and could collapse.

Then, Charlie Thorton suggested moving the towers 60 meters into another area that had more stability. The idea seemed crazy, but it had a very clear basis, he planned to introduce a series of huge pillars to 120 meters deep to reach the hard strata below. So the towers would get nailed to the floor with the world's deepestfoundations.

Construction began in early 1993. The foundation was an arduous task, if the concrete was drying unevenly the layer would crack and weaken its ability to support the giant building that would be over, so they had to pour all the concrete at one time, that meant to pour concrete continuously for 52 hours, the logistics were daunting, a concrete mixer truck every 2 minutes....
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