Sky Tower – New Zealand, Australia
The Sky Tower is an observation and telecommunications tower located on the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets in the Auckland CBD, Auckland City, New Zealand. It is 328 metres (1,076 ft) tall, as measured from ground level to the top of the mast, making it the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Due to its shape and height, especially when compared to the next tallest structures, it has become an iconic structure in Auckland’s skyline.
The tower is part of the SKYCITY Auckland casino complex, having been originally built for Harrah’s Entertainment. The tower attracts an average of 1,450 visitors per day (over 500,000 per year) for a variety of reasons.
The upper portion of the tower contains two restaurants and a cafe, including a revolving restaurant which is located 190m from the ground, turning 360 degrees once every hour. There is also a brasserie style buffet located one floor above the main observatory level. It has three observation decks at different heights, each providing 360 degree views of the city. The main observation level at 186m has 38mm thick glass sections of flooring giving a view straight to the ground. The top observation deck labeled ‘Skydeck’ sits just below the main antenna at 220m and gives views of up to 82 km in the distance.
The tower also features the ‘SkyJump’, a 192-metre jump from the observation deck, during which a jumper can reach up to 85 km/h (53 mph). The jump is guide-cable-controlled to prevent jumpers from colliding with the tower in case of wind gusts. Climbs into the antenna mast portion (300 m/980 ft heights) are also possible for tour groups, as is a walk around the exterior.
The tower is also used for telecommunications and broadcasting with the Auckland Peering Exchange (APE) being located on Level 48. The aerial at the top of the tower hosts the largest FM combiner in the worldwhich combines with 58 wireless microwave links located above the top restaurant to provide a number of services. These include television, wireless internet, RT, and weather measurement services.
The tower is Auckland’s primary FM radio transmitter, and its second major terrestrial television transmitter (after Waiatarua in the Waitakere Ranges to the west). A total of twenty-three FM radio stations, two VHF analogue television channels, and three digital terrestrial television multiplexes broadcast from the tower. The analogue television channels will switch off in the early hours of Sunday 1 December 2013 as part of New Zealand’s digital television transition.
Fletcher Construction was the contracted builder for the project while engineering firm Beca Group provided the design management and coordination, structural, geotechnical, civil, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, lighting and fire engineering services. Harrison Grierson provided surveying services. It was designed by Craig Craig Moller architectsand has received a New Zealand Institute of Architects National Award as well as regional awards.
Taking two and a half years of construction time, the tower was opened on 3 March 1997, six months ahead of schedule.