When it comes to talking about tall buildings, specifically the tallest in the world, for me a perfectly natural question is an enquiry as to what sits at the top of said tallest buildings.
Ask this question about Taiwan’s Taipei 101 however, and you’re just as likely to get a blank stare and indifferent shrug of the shoulders, as you are to get an answer that tells you what’s up there – but woefully fails to offer any concrete explanation.
Taipei 101 is arguably Taiwan’s most well-known global tourist marker and definitely ranks up there in terms of tourist visits island-wide.
Yet whilst much is known about the buildings layout and it’s office space between the ground floor shopping mall and outdoor observation deck on the 91st floor – virtually nothing is known about what sits above the observation deck.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
The 101st floor is home to a private VIP club named Summit 101, according to the observatory brochure. No information about this club has ever been made public.
The 101st floor is also divided into three levels: 101F (lower), 101MF (mezzanine) and 101RF (roof). It is not known what is actually on these levels, or whether the VIP club actually exists, except that 101RF provides access to the 60-metre tall spire, which has 24 levels (numbered R1 through R24) that can only be accessed via ladder.
The 92nd through 100th floors are officially designated as communication floors, although it’s unknown if there are any radio or TV stations currently broadcasting from the top of Taipei 101.
The 91st floor observatory is the highest floor that is open to the public , but unlike the leased/private floors from 7~90F, there is no sign of even a visible access point to the topmost floors on Level 91.
The top 10 floors have never been mentioned anywhere outside of the observatory brochure.
Here’s a Taipei 101 map sourced from Flickr member SkylineGTR that clearly shows the hidden elevator exists to access the above floors:
Note that no information about the separate elevator or what it accesses is up there.
The explanation that floors 92-100 are ‘communication floors’ I guess are acceptable, but what’s with no information about who is up there broadcasting or in what capacity??
This from a country whose media love to expose any scandal they can find, no matter how trivial, by barging into people’s private lives armed with a dozen news cameras…
I’ve been up to the observation deck and I certainly don’t remember seeing any satellites or broadcast like looking equipment up there. Certainly nothing that was branded by any of Taiwan’s known media organisations.
But getting back to Summit 101… as far as I can tell the only recorded existence of this place comes from a fireworks engineer who was part of the team that put on the 2011 NYE Taipei 101 fireworks.
Drew Sikora, on his blog Blade Edge, writes
Later on in the day I finally got an excuse to head up to the top of the building, Floor 101RF – even higher than the observation deck the general public has access to.
The only place you can view that is higher is the top of the spire, but at this point the height difference isn’t so much greater that the view could be considered any better IMO, so I was content with just getting up to 101.
That in itself doesn’t reveal much but 7 days after the article was published, Markus Eriksson asked
Just curious…what are floors 92-101R actually used for? When I first visited the observatory in 2005, the brochure said that there was a private VIP club named “Summit 101″ on the top floor.
The 2010 brochure removed any mention of this private club, and floors 92-101 have become “communication floors.” Are there really radio/TV stations broadcasting from up there?
What became of the VIP club?
To which Sikora replied,
Well I can confirm the club is still there, I had some VIPs ride up in the elevator with me as I was traveling towards the top on New Years Eve.
When the doors opened I could see a club room. I’m sure there are broadcasting equipment in the higher floors, that makes sense.
Unfortunately I never had time to really explore much so that’s really all I know
And that ladies and gentlemen, apart from a brochure no longer in print (which I was not able to track down a photo of), is the only recorded evidence to date that Summit 101 club even exists.
Thinking that there must have been some discussion of this in Chinese, I asked my girlfriend to do a search but to my surprise, it initially turned up nothing.
outside the 101 building designed for VIP meeting room rental.
They don’t mention who you rent this ‘meeting room’ from though (the building’s owners?).
Apart from Sikora’s limited experience above, there appears to be no written information about the Summit 101 club in English anywhere.
Stuck at a dead-end research wise myself, I’m hoping that by publishing this some day someone with more information will share it with us and perhaps finally the mystery of Summit 101 and what exactly goes on at this rooftop club of what is the second tallest building in the world can be put to rest.
Seriously, every year thousands of people must visit Taipei 101 and each new years eve nearly a million people in person (and who knows how many more else on TV) flock to Taipei’s Xinyi District to stare directly at the top of Taipei 101… yet nobody knows what’s up there or has thought to ask?
How do you keep a secret club secret when it’s situated at the top of the world’s second most tallest building, which is in the capital city of one of the world’s most densely populated countries for nearly a decade?!
In a nation of 23 million people, the mind boggles as to why this mystery seemingly hasn’t bugged at least one Taiwanese person enough to investigate further…
Come on guys, somebody has to know just what the hell is up there!
Update 3rd January 2012 – Herman left a comment below pointing out that the official website states the 101st floor is a ‘private function room‘.
Armed with this and the Rebar Housing real estate agent website, we contactedTaipei 101 by email to enquire into renting out the function room and what it cost.
The woman that answered didn’t outright deny the existance of the 101st floor, but said ‘they never lease out the meeting room‘.
We replied with a few sites in Chinese all similarly stating like the Rebar Housing site did that the 101st floor was a rentable function/meeting room.
Whilst the first reply was prompt, after waiting a few hours we contacted Taipei 101 by phone, a lady answered and immediately demanded to know where we’d read the information that the 101st floor was for rent.
After providing her the link back to Taipei 101′s own website and the Rebar Housing website… she provided no further information and that was as far as the conversation went.
The plot thickens…
I have a sneaking suspicion the Taipei 101 website is going to get edited in the next few weeks so I’ve reproduced the ‘function room’ image, as it currently appears in January 2012 below (click to enlarge):