9 of the Largest Buildings in the World

Civilization markers

Photo: d'n'c [CC by SA-2.0]/Flickr

Grand feats of architecture are staples of history's great civilizations. From the fabled Tower of Babel to the Acropolis and the Taj Mahal, massive architectural endeavors have always made their mark on history. Modern civilization is no different, as it seems every few years a new building is constructed that competes for the world's largest or tallest. The largest buildings built today are so massive that they dwarf the largest structures of the past — thanks to the cumulative pace of architectural innovation. Here's our list of the world's largest buildings. (Text: Bryan Nelson)

New Century Global Centre

Fiereas de la Ingeniería.

Opening as recently as June of 2013, the New Century Global Centre in Chengdu, China, is the new title-holder for the largest building in the world by floor area. To get an idea of just how massive this structure is, consider that it is large enough to hold 20 Sydney Opera Houses and has three times the square footage of the Pentagon.

Within its walls are numerous offices, conference rooms, a massive shopping mall, two 1,000-room hotels, an ice-skating rink, a 14-screen IMAX theater, and even an artificial seaside village, complete with a man-made beach and the world's largest artificial wave generator. An artificial sun ensures that it's always daylight in this replica of paradise.

Burj Khalifa

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Dubai's Burj Khalifa is, by far, the tallest building in the world. At a height of 2,716.5 feet, it dwarfs the world's second tallest building by more than 700 feet. Unsurprisingly, it also boasts the highest number of stories in the world, the highest occupied floor, highest observation deck and longest-traveling elevator.

Abraj Al-Bait

Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images.

This colossal building complex in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, holds a number of prestigious architectural titles. It is the third largest building in the world by floor area. Meanwhile, its clock tower, the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower, is the second tallest building in the world, behind only Dubai's Burj Khalifa. It combines sheer size and height like no other structure in the world.

One World Trade Center

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This architectural wonder, recently completed in New York City, was built to stand in the place of the World Trade Center site. One World Trade Center (previously called the Freedom Tower) is not only the tallest structure in the city, but it is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and third tallest in the world.

The building scrapes the sky at 1,776 feet, a height that symbolizes the year of the United States Declaration of Independence.

Aalsmeer Flower Auction

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What better way to fill such a large space? The auction building of a flower auction in Aalsmeer, the Netherlands, is the largest building in the world by footprint, covering 243 acres. It is one of the world's premiere flower and plant markets, trading as many as 20 million flowers on a daily basis.

Though a subjective measurement, it's probably safe to say that this building is also the most fragrant large building in the world.

Taipei 101

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The world record holder for the tallest building in the world from 2004 through 2010, Taipei 101, located in Taiwan, is now the fourth tallest, standing at 1,670 feet. Though it has been surpassed in height, the building lays claim to a number of prestigious awards, including Newsweek's 7 New Wonders of the World, Discovery's 7 Wonders of Engineering, and it is the Guinness world record holder of the fastest passenger elevator in the world.

Perhaps most notable, however, is Taipei 101's claim to being the largest green building in the world. It was awarded LEED Platinum certification in 2011, the tallest and largest building in the world to achieve that rank.

Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3

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The largest airport hub in the Middle East, Dubai's International Airport also boasts the largest airport terminal in the world. Terminal 3 is not only massive by airport standards, it also happens to be the second largest building by floor area in the world, capable of handling up to 43 million passengers a year.

Petronas Towers

Jimmy McIntyre - Editor HDR One Magazine/Flickr.

These beautiful twin towers, located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004. Though they have since been surpassed by six others, they remain the tallest twin building in the world. The bridge connecting the two towers is the highest two-story bridge in the world.

Shanghai Tower

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Though still under construction, the Shanghai Tower in China is projected to be the second tallest building in the world by the time it is completed, at more than 2,000 feet. Though it will fall short of any individual world records, it will be the tallest building in China.

The completed tower will also finalize the tallest skyline in the world. It will sit directly beside both the Jin Mao Tower (at 1,380 feet) and the Shanghai World Financial Center (at 1,614 feet — currently fifth tallest in the world), making these three buildings the tallest trio in the world. In fact, they will make up the world's first adjacent grouping of three supertall skyscrapers.