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Central Park Office Tower East (Caracas) photograph.
Photograph © Gustavo Jimenéz

Central Park Office Tower East (Caracas) photograph.
Photograph © Gustavo Jimenéz

Central Park Office Tower East (Caracas) photograph.
Photograph © Alfredo Haack

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Central Park Office Tower East
(Parque Central Torre Officinas Este)

Built: 1978-1984
Designed by: Shaw and Associates
Type: Skyscraper
Stories: 56
Maximum Height: 725 feet / 221 meters
Caracas, Venezuela
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T he people of Venezuela are rightfully proud of these twin 56-story buildings. The Parque Central Towers take their name from the lush green refuge in the heart of Caracas' urban jungle, but are still in the midst of a vast complex of office buildings and civilized amenities that would make most metropolitan areas jealous. At 725 feet, the towers are the tallest buildings in the country and the view from inside offers panoramic access to the city and the surrounding mountains.

In late 2004, a scene developed in Caracas that reminded people of the World Trade Center disaster in New York City. The east tower of the complex caught fire. What initially started as a small fire on the 34th floor spread to 26 stories of the building because there were not enough fire extinguishers, and inadequate pumping facilities for firefighters. Government officials said they thought the fire would stop on the 34th floor, but it managed to spread through the building's ductwork. The blaze raged for over 17 hours. At one point, firefighters and soldiers battling the blaze had to retreat and let the building burn because the flames were so hot there was fear that the tower would collapse. The neighborhood was evacuated, but only two floors actually collapsed. Eventually it was brought under control by military helicopters spraying water on the fire from above. Twenty-five firefighters had to be treated for smoke inhalation, but no civilians were hurt. The building housed government offices and the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art, which put its most valuable pieces in a vault when the fire broke out.

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