BY RAYMOND CALBAY
Whenever my wife and I have family and friends who visit us in Taiwan, we take them to Taipei 101. Taking the stroll from the City Hall MRT station to Xinyi district's string of boutique shops, our visitors would excitedly gawk at the imposing curiosity that is Taipei 101. The building rises 508 meters from the ground and towers over the sprawling metropolis. The humble but pliant bamboo: that's where Taipei 101 takes design inspiration from. Fittingly so as the bamboo can withstand nature’s temper, braving against oriental typhoons and earthquakes. The building’s aesthetic is very much Asian, but there’s no mistaking its world-class stature. Glistening like an emerald on a clear day, I’ve associated the iconic Taipei 101 building with the Taiwanese – and as well as the Asian – dream.
Although it now has runner-up status as the tallest skyscraper on the planet, Taipei 101 still has plenty to boast of. The building is technologically advanced (world-record for the fastest elevator speed) and environmentally conscious as well (recognized as the largest “green building” by international design consortiums). And it has cuteness overload too! Inside the building, you’ll see the “Damper Babies”. These cheerful-looking mascots are based on the spherical 6-ton dampers that balance the building from strong winds. “Damper Babies” represent decidedly Taiwanese ideals: Rich Gold, Cool Black, Smart Silver, and Lucky Red. From my daily work life in Taiwan, I want to share how I came to witness virtues by the “Damper Babies” come to life.