World's Tallest Tower Opens in Tokyo

Developers of the Tokyo Skytree expect more than 25 million visitors annually. The design & engineering firm has called it “a pinnacle of safety in earthquake-prone Japan.”

The 634-meter Tokyo Skytree, the world's tallest free-standing broadcasting tower, opened on May 22. Observation decks are located at heights of 350 and 450 meters, equivalent to 1,148 feet and 1,476 feet, respectively. The higher deck is above the total height of the Empire State Building, which measures 1,454 feet including the antenna spire at its top.

It became Japan's tallest structure in March 2010 when it passed 338 meters.

Engineers and architects from the firm Nikken Sekkei Ltd who designed the tower, managed its construction, and designed its firefighting, HVAC, lighting, and plumbing systems discuss some of the challenges in short reports posted on the firm's website. The firm has described the tower as "a pinnacle of safety in earthquake-prone Japan owing to Nikken's rigorously developed wind- and seismic-resistant elements. The tower's vibration control system employs a central column -— a design used to stabilize the pagodas of traditional Japanese architecture. This system counters swaying set in motion by earthquake tremors and strong winds, ensuring a safe and reliable structure." After it opens, more than 25 million visitors to the site are expected annually.

A diagram of the two observation decks and information about buying tickets are available at the tower's innovative website.

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