The largest buildings in the world are not necessarily the tallest. Many of those with the largest square footage exploit the benefits of steel construction. Structural steel, according to the American Institute for Steel Construction, is not only the most cost-effective framing system, but the quickest to erect and one of the most easily recycled. Five of the world's largest buildings are prime examples of the possibilities of steel.
The world's sixth largest building is its most extensive casino, the 10.5 million square foot Venetian Macao built on reclaimed land in Macao. Designed as a "mega-resort," the facility is operated by the Sands, the famous Las Vegas resort. Its ornate murals and cornices, its arena, its pool and spa complex and even its network of canals with their gondoliers beneath a painted sky are all attached to a structural steel frame.
Dubai Terminal 3
The second largest building on earth is now one of the international terminals of Dubai International Airport. Terminal 3's 18,440,000 square feet of floor space originally served only domestic travelers, but now handles international flights as well. Over 40 million passengers use the terminal every year. Completed in 2008, the building required 33,000 metric tons of structural steel. As if it were not big enough on its own, Terminal 3 is directly connected to Terminal 2 through a common transit area.
FloraHolland's auction facility in Aalsmeer in the Netherlands is the largest trading floor in the world at 10.6 million square feet and the fourth largest building overall. Originally erected in 1972, the building was expanded to its current size in 1979. Its steel roof members are plainly visible from the auction floor.
The headquarters and main R&D facility for Chrysler LLC is a 5.3 million square foot tower in Auburn Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. The building's curtain walls hang from a steel frame, incorporating atriums and concourses that culminate in an octagonal skylight. The facade is designed to allude to the shape of an automobile, something not possible without steel frame construction.
Abraj al Bait
The most extensive building in the world is Abraj al Bait in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It includes a luxury hotel, a four level shopping mall, six residential towers for permanent residents, a conference center and two separate heliports and an intramodal transit station, as well as the world's largest clock tower. While its exterior incorporates Islamic architectural motifs, particularly mosaics, the building's internal structure is a steel frame.
Almost all the world's largest building's use structural steel framing. The one exception, the 6.6 million square foot reinforced-concrete Pentagon, was built during a time of steel scarcity. The contrast between its low, glowering facade and light, airy curtain wall structures is in itself an argument in favor of steel frame construction. The American Iron and Steel Institute maintains that steel offers economic and environmental advantages in addition to its "aesthetically beautiful" appearance. This makes it the medium of choice for contemporary architectural expression.
Sally writes for hard to find metals company Dynamic Metals who also stock 300M steel alloy and many other hard to find metals.