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Architecture
is going to cool new extremes, from the tallest clock tower to an inverted
skyscraper.

Driving
along Dubai’s E11 motorway, it’s easy to get
distracted by the sky-high construction. But the glassy Burj Khalifa is so tall
that you need to pull over and actually get out of your car to view the entire
record-breaking building.

Budgets
may be smaller and downsizing inevitable, but when it comes to architecture,
big is in. Seems whenever there’s an economic downturn, buildings go to new
heights. The Empire State Building went up in 1931 during the Depression. Similarly,
Burj Khalifa topped out at 2,723 feet in 2010, deep into the Great
Recession. When times are tough, nothing says stability like a big, solid
structure. These mega-buildings are universally comforting and inspiring.

Today’s
superlatives of architecture trend toward high-tech achievements, and emerging regional
powerhouses like Asia dominate the list. The biggest LCD screen in Beijing and the largest tented structure
in Kazakhstan reveal a new competitive race that
was once measured in height, but is now marked by impressive advances in
engineering.

“For the first time, new design
tools have flooded the market, so a lot of the extremes we are seeing are tests
of how far we can go,” says Forrest Jessee, architectural designer for Diller
Scofidio + Renfro, the firm behind New York’s Highline
and Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art.
“Possibilities with software, fabrication, forms, and workflows are very much a
frontier right now.”

Even the concept of sustainable
architecture is entering the record-setting race. The world’s largest solar
building, designed to resemble a sundial, recently opened in Dezhou, China. The
structure has more than 800,000 square feet of space, and much like the region
it’s in, has become China’s lab for clean energy—not a bad way to counter
critics of China’s environmental policies or to pique the interest of tourists.

Such cutting-edge buildings put new
tourism icons on the map, even as age-old examples of grand architecture
continue to capture our imaginations. They remind us that the impulse to think
and build big isn’t a new one. Consider the Great Pyramids—the world’s tallest
structures for nearly four millennia—or Beijing’s Forbidden City, which still
holds the record for the world’s largest palace complex and lures 12.8 million
annual visitors.

As architects strive to outdo
each other and new cities and structures command recognition, the new motto
remains evident: more is more. —Adam H. Graham

World's Biggest Buildings

Architecture
is going to cool new extremes, from the tallest clock tower to an inverted
skyscraper.

Driving
along Dubai’s E11 motorway, it’s easy to get
distracted by the sky-high construction. But the glassy Burj Khalifa is so tall
that you need to pull over and actually get out of your car to view the entire
record-breaking building.

Budgets
may be smaller and downsizing inevitable, but when it comes to architecture,
big is in. Seems whenever there’s an economic downturn, buildings go to new
heights. The Empire State Building went up in 1931 during the Depression. Similarly,
Burj Khalifa topped out at 2,723 feet in 2010, deep into the Great
Recession. When times are tough, nothing says stability like a big, solid
structure. These mega-buildings are universally comforting and inspiring.

Today’s
superlatives of architecture trend toward high-tech achievements, and emerging regional
powerhouses like Asia dominate the list. The biggest LCD screen in Beijing and the largest tented structure
in Kazakhstan reveal a new competitive race that
was once measured in height, but is now marked by impressive advances in
engineering.

“For the first time, new design
tools have flooded the market, so a lot of the extremes we are seeing are tests
of how far we can go,” says Forrest Jessee, architectural designer for Diller
Scofidio + Renfro, the firm behind New York’s Highline
and Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art.
“Possibilities with software, fabrication, forms, and workflows are very much a
frontier right now.”

Even the concept of sustainable
architecture is entering the record-setting race. The world’s largest solar
building, designed to resemble a sundial, recently opened in Dezhou, China. The
structure has more than 800,000 square feet of space, and much like the region
it’s in, has become China’s lab for clean energy—not a bad way to counter
critics of China’s environmental policies or to pique the interest of tourists.

Such cutting-edge buildings put new
tourism icons on the map, even as age-old examples of grand architecture
continue to capture our imaginations. They remind us that the impulse to think
and build big isn’t a new one. Consider the Great Pyramids—the world’s tallest
structures for nearly four millennia—or Beijing’s Forbidden City, which still
holds the record for the world’s largest palace complex and lures 12.8 million
annual visitors.

As architects strive to outdo
each other and new cities and structures command recognition, the new motto
remains evident: more is more. —Adam H. Graham

istockphoto

World's Biggest Buildings

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