Today, the construction industry has incredible technology at its fingertips, from construction accounting software to satellite mapping systems. As technology and skills evolve, so too do our building techniques. Construction world records have been made, broken, and broken again as architects, engineers and developers seek to push the boundaries of construction (and physics) to create some truly astonishing structures. We examine eight construction world records and ponder what could be in store for the future…
Dubai’s Burj Khalifa became the tallest man-made structure in the world in 2009. The skyscraper stands at 829.8m, with 163 floors (and an additional 46 maintenance levels) and a total floor area of over three million square feet. At the time of writing, the Burj Khalifa holds more than a dozen other records, including the building with the most floors, the building with the world’s highest occupied floor, the world’s highest observation deck and the world’s highest restaurant.
The world’s highest bridge (i.e. the bridge with the biggest drop distance from the bridge deck to the ground or water level below) is the Sidu River Bridge in China. The suspension bridge was built to accommodate the new Shanghai-Chongqing Expressway, a 1,200-mile highway. It has a height of nearly 500m, crossing a mountain belt. The first suspension cable was placed via a rocket.
The incredible Milau Viaduct in France still holds onto the record of the world’s tallest bridge, with one mast reaching 343 metres above the base of the structure. The total cost of the viaduct, which opened in 2004, was approximately €400 million (£300 million), and the structure is regarded as one of the greatest feats of engineering (and construction) of all time.
The longest tunnel in the world wasn’t built in this century – it’s the Delaware Aqueduct, built during the Second World War to transfer water between reservoirs and help New York City quench its thirst for more water. Today, despite a couple of huge leaks, the 85-mile tunnel continues to provide around half of New York’s water supply, transporting 1.3 billion US gallons per day – nearly 5 billion litres.
The past few decades have seen the construction of some staggeringly impressive dams. China’s Jinping-I Dam is 305m tall, and its turbines have a electricity generation capacity of 3.6GW. The concrete arch design may not be the most elegant, but it’s certainly effective.
Largest power station
The world’s largest power station is currently the gargantuan Three Gorges Dam in China, which was finished in 2012 and generated nearly 100 TWh of electricity in 2014.
Largest usable space
The building with the largest usable space is Boeing’s Everett Factory, which has a usable floor area of over 4 million square feet. It’s used as an assembly site for some of the world’s biggest aircraft.
World’s furthest leaning tower
No, this record doesn’t belong to the Leaning Tower of Pisa – that only tilts 4 degrees these days. Guinness created this record after the construction of Capital Gate, a leaning skyscraper in Abu Dhabi that was completed in 2011. Incredibly, this tower was built to lean 18°.
These incredible structures might not be amongst your construction company’s usual projects, but they can certainly be inspiring. If you’d like to upgrade your construction company for the 21st century, investing in new construction accounting software is a good place to start.