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Super-size Design

Big has a bad rap. Big buildings—either vertical or horizontal—are often soulless, monotonous, or intimidating. Beyond a certain size, is real architecture possible? The projects examined here, all more than a million square feet, confront the gargantuan challenges —and solve them in ingenious ways. For example, a residential complex in Singapore broke from the model of towers-in-a-park by stacking horizontal volumes in dynamic clusters. This strategy created greater connectivity and a more human scale, while allowing light and air to penetrate inside. The other projects here also tackle the problems of scale, sustainability, and human engagement. It's clear that, as the world's cities grow and become more dense, supersize designs are going to be a significant part of the urban fabric.

De Rotterdam

De Rotterdam
Bringing XL Back Home: Having completed huge projects in Asia, Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture apply their strategies for building extra-large to the small city in which they are based.

Photo © Richard John Seymour

Technology and the City: Chattanooga

Pearl River Tower
Towering Ambition: With an office building in rapidly expanding Guangzhou, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill puts super green before supertall.

Photo © Tim Griffith

Technology and the City: Detroit

Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport Terminal 3
Lights, Camera, Architecture!: Treating an enormous airport as a cinematic experience, a Rome-based firm designs a series of architectural scenes in which light and space play leading roles.

Photo © Leonardo Finotti

The Interlace

The Interlace
Stack the Decks: Architect Ole Scheeren hypothesized that dense urban residential living didn't have to occur in an isolating skyscraper—and he was right.

Photo © Iwan Baan

Fake Hills design for Beihai, China

Big, Bigger, Biggest
The future looms large for seven forthcoming projects around the globe that demonstrate ambition in scale and form.

Photo © MAD Architects

Norman Foster

Asking Mr. Big
Foster+Partners has designed megaprojects around the globe, from airports to skyscrapers. How are super-size buildings, such as Apple's future headquarters, shaped for the people who will use them?

Photo © Nigel Young/Foster+Partners

The Interlace

Exhibition Review: High and Low
New York's Museum of Modern Art offers a fresh look at Frank Lloyd Wright's ideas for skyscrapers and city planning.

Image courtesy Museum of Modern Art and Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Editorial: Supersize It
Technology, demand, and daring are driving the push for big buildings.

Photo © Michel Arnaud

Spaceport America

Snapshot: Spaceport America
On a barren patch of desert in New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto basin, just 50 miles west of the site where scientists detonated the first nuclear weapon, Foster + Partners took on an extraordinary task: to construct the world’s first private hangar facility for spaceflight.

Photo © Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

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